1819 provides you with the answers to the questions we are frequently asked about the war in Ukraine and its economic consequences.
Below, you will find an FAQ about the war in Ukraine and its economic consequences for Ukrainian refugees and Brussels companies. It is a compilation of information from official sources.
Table of contents
The questions are divided into the following categories :
Measures for Brussels companies affected by the Ukrainian crisis
Update: April 9th 2022
Temporary unemployment - Bridging right
If a company is affected by the war in Ukraine and/or by the economic sanctions that may result from it, the employer concerned can resort to temporary unemployment for force majeure for its employees, following the simplified procedure set up for temporary corona unemployment. This measure is valid for whole of Belgium until 30th of June 2022.
Temporary unemployment can result from either :
- a complete suspension of the execution of the employment contract (e.g. a total shortage of raw materials as a result of an imposed trade embargo) ;
- or a partial suspension of the performance of the employment contract (e.g. due to the loss of a part of the sales market). In this case, the worker may still work some days per week.
Information and formalities for the employer and the employee can be found on the website of the ONEM. Information on this subject and assistance can also be requested from the social secretaries.
Since 1 April, the federal government has also introduced a crisis bridging entitlement for self-employed persons who are directly affected by the war in Ukraine and therefore have a drop in turnover of at least 40% compared to the same month in 2019. You will be asked to provide supporting documents when you apply.
- You must demonstrate a decrease in turnover of at least 40% for the calendar month preceding the month for which the financial benefit is claimed, compared to the same month in 2019, regardless of the sector in which you are active. You must also demonstrate a direct causal link between this decrease and the conflict.
- In order to benefit from this new temporary crisis measure, the self-employed person must have actually paid their legally due provisional contributions for at least 4 out of the previous 16 quarters. For self-employed persons starting their activity who have only been subject to the social status for 12 quarters or less, the actual payment of at least 2 quarters is sufficient.
This is a monthly financial benefit of 1,747.15 euros (self-employed with dependants) or 1,398.17 euros (without dependants).
The new temporary crisis measure applies from 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022. The legislative initiative is currently underway. For more information, self-employed persons can contact their social insurance fund.
State support to companies
The European Commission announced on March 23, 2022 that the rules limiting state support to companies are temporarily relaxed (until December 31, 2022) to support the economy in the face of the impact of the war in Ukraine. This means that EU countries are allowed to grant soft loans and subsidies to companies suffering from the impact of sanctions and rising energy prices, under certain conditions.
We will post the information on our site as soon as Belgium takes additional specific measures.
How to be proactive?
- Identify if your business sector (including the sector of your suppliers, service providers, etc.) is directly impacted by the conflict or is subject to specific sanctions (imports, products in short supply, etc.) in order to be informed as quickly as possible and to evaluate the feasibility of finding new markets, suppliers, products.
- Identify the indirect consequences that impact you and what could be modified in whole or in part to relieve your company (e.g. energy price increase, transportation difficulties, Russian customers, payments with Russia, increase in material prices, etc.).
- If you have contracts with a Russian co-contractor, payment issues can be significant. It is advisable to have an expert review the force majeure clauses and assess the situation. Then, renegotiate your agreements as far as possible (and include a renegotiation term in your future agreements), so that the terms of the contract can be renegotiated in case of unforeseen circumstances that do not necessarily make the performance of the contract impossible but clearly difficult or too expensive for either party.
Information and assistance to Ukrainian refugees upon arrival in Brussels
Update: 19 april 2023
Arrival, accommodation and housing
Upon arrival, Ukrainian nationals receive a declaration of arrival. The federal level organizes the first crisis assistance.
Medium-term accommodation is delegated to the municipalities. When Ukrainian refugees are registered as "temporarily relocated" with the Foreigners' Office and if they declare that they need accommodation, FEDASIL searches for accommodation via a web platform "Housing Tool", which centralizes the places that have been communicated by the local community. This tool provides very short-term accommodation through private initiatives or host families. There is then a dispatching of Ukrainian nationals in the various Brussels municipalities that have accommodation to offer.
Then, the Brussels Region, within the framework of its competences, must be able to provide a temporary housing solution for approximately 20,000 Ukrainian refugees. This phase is carried out in cooperation with the local and federal authorities.
Access to work
After obtaining temporary protection status at the registration center (Heysel), the municipality where the person has accommodation will issue a residency permit (card A).
This A-card gives access to assistance from the CPAS (social welfare service) of the municipality, to the registration with the compulsory health insurance, as well as to the possibility to work as an employee or self-employed or to follow a professional training, an adult education, etc.
This status is currently valid for one year, but Europe can extend it to a maximum of 3 years.
The A card allows unlimited access to the labor market. The same access to the labor market is provided for certain family members of the beneficiary of temporary protection who are not themselves beneficiaries of this status but whose stay is linked to the beneficiary concerned.
To become an employee
Unlike other non-EU nationals, Ukrainian nationals do not need to receive a work authorization (work permit). Therefore, their employers do not need to apply for a "unique permit" (from Brussels Economy and Employment).
Ukrainians who are already in Belgium for seasonal work will have their work permit renewed, even beyond the 90-day limit. Check the sites for Brussels and Flanders on this subject.
Ukrainians who already had access to work prior to the temporary protection status can continue to rely on these permits.
TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
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If you have an activity that generates income in Belgium, this income must be declared to the State. There are several ways in which you can your own business, with different statutes and therefore different formalities.
SETTING UP AS SELF-EMPLOYED
Ukrainian nationals who want to set up as self-employed no longer need to apply for a professional card
Those residing in the Brussels-Capital Region or in Wallonia and starting up as an individual, or those creating a company with its head office in these two regions, must prove their entrepreneurial abilities, namely basic management knowledge and professional skills if applicable. Practical experience or a diploma acquired in Ukraine can be used as proof, according to the same rules as any non-EU national.
Contact an enterprise counter before taking any other steps, to check whether your diplomas and experience are valid and find out what documents you will need to provide.
Some diplomas are automatically accepted and can be found in the Diplo database. Some flexibility will be allowed if certain evidentiary documents cannot be provided due to the ongoing conflict. For example, a lost diploma can be replaced by a certificate from the organisation that issued it.
For other diplomas, an equivalent document may be requested. Please note that this request for equivalence is not free and can take a long time for a result that is (often) negative.
In terms of experience, double proof of practice is required. For example, an extract from the commercial register and a social document attesting to self-employment (from the equivalent of a social insurance fund). For access to management, it is necessary to prove three years of experience as a lead director during the last 15 years.
In the absence of a recognised diploma or valuable experience, it will be possible to take an examination at the Central Jury. These theoretical exams are held in French, Dutch or German. Training courses are available to prepare for these exams (here or here).
Lastly, when it is not possible for the business owner to do so, one of the following people can prove the basic management knowledge:
- the spouse
- the legal cohabitant
- the partner with whom they have been living for at least six months
- an employee with a permanent contract (minimum 4 hours/week)
- a self-employed helper who is a first, second or third degree relative of the entrepreneur and who submits a declaration from a social insurance fund for self-employed persons showing that they are a self-employed helper of the entrepreneur concerned
CREATING YOUR ACTIVITY IN THE FORM OF A NON-PROFIT ASSOCIATION (ASBL)
When the goal of the company is not personal enrichment but rather a selfless goal of improving society, it is possible to carry out its activity in the form of an ASBL. There are many ASBLs in the social, cultural and leisure, etc. sectors.
A minimum of two people is required to found an ASBL. These two people agree on the statutes, which are published in the Belgian Official Gazette. It is not possible to be an employee as a director of an ASBL, but this is allowed for specific tasks other than the day-to-day management of the association (e.g. giving courses or running the art gallery). In this case, as you do not have self-employed status, it is not necessary to have a professional card or access to the management and profession.
CARRYING OUT ACTIVITY VIA A SHARED ENTERPRISE OR A COOPERATIVE OF ACTIVITIES
Another option is to work through a company that will act as an intermediary between the project owner and their clients. The project owner will thus become an employee of this intermediary who will transform the income of their clients into successive fixed-term contracts. This system avoids the pitfalls of the professional card and access to the management and so makes it possible to start a business much faster and more easily.
Some activities, which are either "protected" (such as doctors, architects and accountants) or that require a long-term commitment (such as signing a commercial lease) are not possible in a shared enterprise. Several intermediaries exist, of which Smart offers the widest range of activities. The others include Tentoo and Amplo.be.
A business cooperative allows you to test your activity for 18 months while maintaining your status as a job seeker, and therefore without the need for a professional card and access to management. Coaching is offered to set up the business. In Brussels, this possibility is offered by JobYourself.
WORKING IN BELGIUM WITH YOUR FOREIGN COMPANY
1. BY CREATING A SUBSIDIARY
The subsidiary is a company under national law (a company that will adopt a legal form under Belgian law), founded and controlled by one or more Belgian or foreign companies. The subsidiary has its own shares and its own board of directors.
The subsidiary has a separate legal personality from the parent company, unlike a branch office.
The administrator must have a professional card (and access to management if the head office is in Brussels or Wallonia).
2. BY CREATING A BRANCH OFFICE
The branch office is an extension of the foreign company in Belgium. It is created when the latter decides to regularly carry out acts falling within the framework of its commercial activity on our territory.
The branch has no legal personality. It therefore has no shares, no general assembly, no management body, etc., other than those of the foreign company of which it is part. However, the branch has separate management with some autonomy.
A legal representative of the foreign company must be appointed to its management. The deed of appointment must define the extent to which they are authorised to bind the foreign company in the context of the branch's activities. When a branch office enters into a contract, it is in fact the parent company that is committed.
3. BY CREATING A SIMPLE ESTABLISHMENT UNIT
Unlike with the branch, there is no separate management. In Belgium, no one has the power to bind this company, so there is no legal representative. Management is retained in its entirety within the foreign company.
As with a Belgian company, the Establishment Unit is defined as a place of business, geographically identifiable by an address, where or from which at least one activity of the company is carried out (store, office, warehouse).
The company will therefore have to meet the same conditions as all Belgian companies in terms of registration with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, entrepreneurial capacities and other authorisations.
4. WORKING (WITHOUT SETTLING) IN BELGIUM
If a foreign company carries out activities in Belgium without being established there (e.g. consultancy activities), it will have to submit an application for authorisation through the Enterprise Counter. Access to management (if the chosen counter is in Wallonia or Brussels) and a professional card are therefore necessary.
WHAT ABOUT TAXATION?
Part of your income is deducted to ensure your social protection in terms of health coverage, family allowances, pension, etc.
- For an employee, the contributions generally amount to more than 30% of the salary, but they are deducted at source and paid directly by the employer to the State.
- For a self-employed person, social security contributions are 20.5% of their income. In this case, these contributions are not deducted at source but they will have to pay them themselves each quarter. Please note that especially in the first year of activity, there is a minimum to pay, even if you have no customers!
PERSONAL INCOME TAX
Whether you have income as a self-employed person (individual or company director) or as an employee, it will be taxed with IPP (Personal Income Tax). This tax works by brackets (net income before tax is considered). For a self-employed person, this means that we take the turnover, from which we deduct the deductible expenses).
From €9,270 to €13,870.
From €13,870 to €24,480.
From €24,480 to €42,370.
Every taxpayer is entitled to a tax-free amount: this is a basic amount on which you do not pay tax. This untaxed sum amounts to €9,270 in 2022 (for 2021 income). It is to be counted in the first bracket and may increase depending on your personal situation (for example, if you have dependent children).
With the same net income, the tax is therefore the same for an employee and for a self-employed person. The big difference is that, in the case of the employee, this amount will again be deducted at source and paid directly by the employer to the State. However, for the self-employed person, all their remuneration will be paid into their bank account and they will have to take the money out.
Your executive remuneration will therefore be taxed as personal income tax. However, the rest of the company's income will be taxed as ISOC (corporation tax).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For further questions or advice on self-employed status in Brussels, please contact 1819.
Finding a job
The European Ministers of the Interior have already decided to grant Ukrainian refugees a right of residence valid for one year and renewable twice. During three years, these people fleeing from their war-torn country will be able to access the Belgian job market. Actiris is the Brussels Regional Employment Office. As a public service, it is the main actor and solution provider for employment in the Brussels-Capital Region.
Brussels, like other capitals, has been observing migratory flows for years. Actiris has evolved its services to meet the needs of this new demographic. Since 2018, Actiris has been using social interpreters to help job seekers who speak neither French nor Dutch. Brochures and videos explaining the steps to take when looking for a job are available in 22 languages. A 23rd version in Ukrainian is currently being produced to make registration at Actiris easier and more fluid. A welcome and information brochure will also be produced in Ukrainian and distributed to the municipalities of Brussels. The aim will be to invite Ukrainian refugees to participate in information sessions on the services offered by Actiris in order to organize the transition to employment as well as possible.
Actiris also has collaboration agreements with leading actors in the guidance and integration of newcomers:
Actiris' employees are also trained to assit this public. The Actiris teams are therefore ready to support refugees from Ukraine who are looking for a job. For more information, please visit https://www.actiris.brussels/en/citizens
The Local Missions for socio-professional integration provide help on the employment market to people who need it.
Guidance and support to become self-employed in Brussels
a) Several structures can provide free support to candidate entrepreneurs to set up their business project:
- the Local Economy Office provides free support to any person wanting to create or develop their own activity in Brussels by helping them with their entrepreneurial process.
- Job Yourself
b) For those wanting to create an ASBL, the following structures can help:
c) Lastly, some organisations have set up reception, support and mentoring programmes for newcomers.
- The non-profit organisation VIA, a reception office for newcomers, which has two locations (Schaerbeek and Molenbeek), offers several types of support, such as individual support, socio-professional orientation, citizenship training and French courses, to newcomers. It has also set up the PEPA support programme, which aims to facilitate the employment self-creation process for newcomers, by providing group information sessions and individual support.
- The ASBL CONVIVIAL aims to promote the integration of refugees and newcomers into Belgium with an approach involving listening and reciprocal commitment.
- Duo for a job is a non-profit organisation that brings together young job seekers from immigrant backgrounds with experienced volunteers over 50 years old from the same professional sector, so that the latter can support them in their job search or entrepreneurial project.
- Team4job offers a six-month mentoring programme that puts job-seekers (mentees) in touch with professionally active people (mentors) to boost their job search or project development. Together, they form a pair and meet at least twice a month at the mentor's place of work.
- Ciré's general reception service is a free service that informs and guides people regarding Ciré's services and actions, as well as regarding residence and asylum procedures, the rights of foreigners and appropriate social and legal support. The service also aims to contribute to the integration of foreigners into the Belgian labour market, in respect of their rights and their socio-professional project. To do this, it informs and supports people in their efforts to obtain the equivalence of diplomas and in the validation of more informal knowledge.
- bon (Inburgering Brussel) organises integration courses in 20 different languages, and also gives advice and support and organises a lot of activities.
Useful telephone numbers and information sites
Update: March 31st 2022
Federal site for general information
It contains practical information for :
- Belgians who are in Ukraine or Russia
- Ukrainians in Belgium
- Municipalities and cities in Belgium
- Individuals wishing to help
Provided langues : FR, NL, EN, UK, RU.
Federal site on social aid and support
Provided langues : FR, NL, EN, DE
Brussels regional informative platform
This site aims to gather available and relevant information in all areas of regional competences to better inform refugees upon their arrival in Brussels.
Provided langues : FR, NL, EN, UK, RU.
Flemish regional site on the rights of Ukrainian nationals in Belgium
Provided langues : NL
Walloon regional site for access to housing
Available Languages : FR