The summer holidays have started and both students and employers might still be looking for either a summer job or a student to temporarily join their team during the coming months. We would therefore like to reiterate the regulations and points of attention related to employing students.
Definition of “student”
In order to be considered a student in the framework of the below regulations, the individual has to follow a full-time education and cannot be enrolled in a system of part-time or evening classes. Are also excluded: students who work for the same employer for an uninterrupted period of more than 12 months.
When employing a student, the Belgian legislation provides for the obligation to conclude an employment agreement in writing at the latest on the moment the students starts working. This employment agreement has to contain a number of specific provisions, such as the identity of the parties, the place of work, daily and weekly working time, salary … . Note that the first 3 working days of the employment agreement for student work are to be considered as a probationary period, during which both parties can terminate the agreement without notice or indemnity. After the 3 day probationary period, both parties can terminate the employment agreement for student work by observing a short notice period.
In order to determine the (minimum) salary for an employment agreement for student work, the industry-specific regulations have to be consulted. If no collective bargaining agreement was concluded within the industry on the salary of students, the guaranteed minimum salary will apply.
A prior notification has to be filed with the National Social Security Office (the so-called DIMONA-notification) no later than on the day the student starts working. This notification should detail the start – and end date of the employment and should contain the number of hours the student is expected to work for the employer, based on the employment agreement.
Social security and income tax consequences
For a maximum period of employment of 475 hours per calendar year, students and their employers are exempt from paying the normal social security contributions on the student’s salary if the employment is performed during periods when the employee is not required to attend school. A solidarity contribution of 8,13% (5,42% at charge of the employer and 2,71% at charge of the student) is however due on said salary.
Similarly, no withholding taxes will be due on the student’s salary during said 475 hours threshold.
If the above threshold of 475 hours per calendar year is surpassed, normal employer and employee social security contributions, as well as withholding taxes, will be due on the student’s salary as of the 476th hour of student work.
The above-mentioned threshold of 475 hours per calendar years needs to be assessed on the level of the student, irrespective of the number of employers the student worked for.
In order to keep track of how many hours a student has already worked, a database has been set up, linked to the DIMONA notifications: www.studentatwork.be. This web-based application firstly enables the students to consult their outstanding balance of the 475 hours that can be performed under the above-mentioned system of solidarity contributions. Secondly, students can print out a certificate detailing said outstanding balance to present to their (future) employer. This certificate contains a pass-code that will allow the employer itself to verify the outstanding balance on the Student@Work application.
When employing students, it is important to keep in mind the specific formalities that need to be complied with and to verify the student’s outstanding balance of hours that can be performed under the more beneficial system of solidarity contributions.