You need an extra pair of hands. Are you like so many young entrepreneurs who can’t afford to hire, or don’t think they can? In this brief guide, we outline the various employment support schemes available.
Before you go any further, do your sums. What is your budget for hiring? And your reasons? To handle an increase in orders? Or an investment in developing your business? What tasks will your new employee be responsible for? Under what supervision? What skillset are you looking for? Junior, senior? Short or long term?
Do not hesitate to talk to seasoned entrepreneurs with experience to share. There is no lack of networking events!
Hiring for free
Can’t afford to hire any staff? Here are the solutions available:
Sounds good, but it is only possible to volunteer for a non-profit or a private individual, never a self-employed sole trader or a company, even for events such as store openings. There are regular inspections and substantial fines!
Colleges and universities are overflowing with young talents in search of their first professional experiences. Placements completed while studying as part of the curriculum are free for the employer, who signs a three-way agreement with the university and the student.
Recruiting and integrating a placement student requires some time and effort, but this option has several benefits: the student brings a fresh outlook, expertise and motivation. Do not hesitate to interview potential candidates to find the one best suited to your business. Decide which tasks to delegate to your placement student and remember that you will need to offer him/her your time if the placement is going to be beneficial to both parties.
You can find placement students by contacting universities and colleges directly (which also enables you to target specific skillsets: IT, marketing, management, etc.), or post an advert on a dedicated site (https://www.student.be/fr/stages, stagebruxelles.be etc.).
You can also take on an overseas placement student through the Eurodyssey programme. Actiris International is responsible for finding you a motivated placement student who meets your needs.
Finally, the Erasmus for young entrepreneurs programme offers you the chance to host a young European entrepreneur eager to discover your business, for a few months. Participants are there to learn, but will also pitch in to help and provide a fresh perspective on your business.
Hiring for short periods
Do you want hire staff for a fixed term or a busy period? Well, you can:
Students are often the perfect source of labour for handling one-off or seasonal peaks in activity, and the holidays of permanent staff.
They benefit from a special rate of social security contributions (under which they can work for up to 475 hours per year), reducing your wage costs.
Students are paid by the hour and not by the day. This enables you to timetable them flexibly: if they work a three hour shift, you do not have to pay them for the whole day.
Temps are particularly useful when you are dealing with additional demands, whether foreseen (e.g. maternity or holidays, or unforeseen (e.g. long-term illness), or when you are not sure if you can afford to hire someone permanently.
The temp agency is the official employer of the temporary worker, meaning that you do not have to worry about formalities such as payroll administration. Note: in exchange, the temp agency takes a cut of the gross salary of the worker, which makes temporary staff relatively expensive.
There are several temp agencies. Some specialise in one sector (e.g. hospitality) and can therefore quickly and easily provide you with qualified staff. If the individual provided does not meet your needs, you can easily terminate the relationship, without paying compensation.
Employers in certain sectors (some shops, hair and beauty salons, hospitality businesses) can employ people who already have a job or are retired, on very attractive terms. They can work as many hours as they want on the side on favourable terms. The working relationship can last a few hours or a few months - there is no limit.
As an employer, you pay just 25% of the employer’s contributions. The workers receive an untaxed income: their gross salary is their net salary.
To work under the flexi-job scheme, the person must either have been employed at least 0.8 full time for the last three-quarters, or have retired two quarters prior to starting the flexi-job.
Your local social security office or a temp agency can handle the formalities.
Hiring in the medium to long term
Are you considering hiring for 6 months or longer? Here is an overview of the support and solutions available. Feel free to contact us to discuss which is best suited to your needs!
In an employers’ alliance two or more businesses come together to hire one or more workers, who work alternately or simultaneously at each of the businesses in question. This system enables companies that do not have sufficient resources to hire one or more workers full time and/or do not need to do so, to share staff.
As legal employer, the employers’ alliance is responsible for entering into contracts with the workers. The alliance then supplies employees to the member companies. The latter are simply users, and are not considered legal employers.
The group must be registered as a non-profit, and its sole purpose must be supplying staff to its members.
Companies that wish to form an employees’ alliance must first obtain authorisation from the Ministry of Employment.
More info on the FPS Economy website.
See also: Employers’ alliances, a solution for VSEs and SMEs?
Is your business looking to recruit one or more members of staff on a tight budget? Thanks to government employment schemes, it is possible to recruit quality candidates while receiving substantial grants, enabling you to reduce the company’s payroll costs and train the new recruits.
- brussels: activa.brussels is an employment support scheme that provides the employer recruiting with an allowance, which is deducted from the worker’s net salary. The worker receives the same salary as his/her future colleagues, but the company only pays part of it. This grant is worth a maximum of 15,900 euros over a period of 30 months. The only requirement for employers is to provide half-time hours for a minimum of 6 months. What is more, for persons with reduced capacity and jobseekers, the activa.brussels grant increases to 23,400 euros over 36 months. In these cases, there are no restrictions on the terms of the employment contract. However, in accordance with federal legislation, working hours must be 1/3 time (with the exception of certain sectors).
activa.brussels also allows employers that hire a young person aged under 30, who has not completed upper secondary education to claim a financial contribution toward training expenses, up to 5,000 euros. In order to benefit from this training incentive, the employer must hire the young person on a full-time permanent basis.
- “professional immersion” internships: By taking on an intern under this scheme, you enable a jobseeker to discover an industry. It can be a rewarding experience, and a much needed helping hand, for you as an employer! The relationship is formalised by an “Professional Immersion Contract” (CIP). The cost for you is low: it is calculated using the pay scale for industrial apprenticeships (e.g. Over 21 = €797, as of 01.03.2020, which may be indexed).
- reductions when hiring your first employees: Thanks for the discount for ‘first employees’, you benefit from reduced employer contributions for your first six employees. Employer contributions are waived in full for the first member of staff you hire, and reduced for your next 5 employees. Both employers who hire a first worker before 2022 and those who hire a worker from 2022 onwards will be able to benefit from the reduction next year and in subsequent years without time limits.
- 57+ discount: Take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of an experienced worker while reducing costs. Did you know that your current employees aged 57 and over can also benefit from a reduction in social security contributions? And it lasts until they retire!
- Articles 60 and 61: Help a person struggling to access the labour market to find work using articles 60 and 61. Working with a CPAS (Public Centre for Social Welfare) can be mutually beneficial! Articles 60 and 61 are employment contracts entered into between the CPAS and one of their service users. Hiring under these articles is a form of social aid, enabling CPAS to find jobs for individuals who have never worked or are long-term unemployed. The ultimate aim is to enable the beneficiary to gain or reactivate their entitlement to unemployment benefits at the end of the employment contract and to (re)enter the world of work.
- Work-linked training: Do you want to train highly-motivated apprentices? Select Actiris provides work-linked courses for employers and their apprentices! These courses enable people aged under 25 to combine theoretical classes and practical experience in companies in the same week. The company is also responsible for training their new staff in the needs of the given industry.
- Stage First internships: An internship is often a good means of welcoming a future employee to the company. Stage First internshipsallow companies to take on interns under particularly advantageous conditions. Stage First internships give jobseekers the chance to gain experience and learn or perfect their skills in a specific industry. For the business, it is an opportunity to train a young person to their specific requirements over the course of 3 to 6 months, for 200 euros gross per month.
- IBO: The IBO Plan,standing for “Individuele beroepsopleiding”, serves a similar purpose to the FPIE (individual in-company training) scheme. The only difference is that it is primarily aimed at Flemish-speaking companies in Brussels, as well as businesses in the North of the country that are looking to recruit. The IBO scheme enables interns to train within companies, while teaching them Dutch through a free course delivered by VDAB, the Flemish counterpart of Actiris.
- FPIE: Individual In-Company Training (FPIE)allows the companies themselves to train their future recruits. FPIEs last between 4 weeks and 6 months. At the end of the training period, the company is required to hire the intern for a period at least equivalent to their placement. The benefit of FPIE for employers is that they do not have to pay wages or social security contributions, instead paying a “productivity allowance” directly to the intern. This allowance is equivalent to the gross salary minus personal social security contributions, as well as the unemployment benefits or jobseekers’ allowance received by the trainee.
- Training cheques: language cheques and professional training cheques to help train your newly-hired employee.
- The ZEUS recruitment premium is aimed at businesses in certain sectors operating within Economic Urban Stimulation Zones (ZEUS). These include streets in the municipalities of Anderlecht, Brussels city, Forest and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. By hiring workers living in ZEUS areas, the company is entitled to a premium of €3,000 for the first year and €6,000 for the second.
- Recruitment premium for circular economy projects: for companies that want to reduce their waste and consumption of new non-renewable materials, and are hiring for this purpose. They can receive a premium of €20,000 or €35,000 when hiring a full-time employee.
- Recruitment premium for business expansion: for small and micro enterprises that have been trading for three years and are hiring in order to increase turnover. They can receive a premium of €20,000 or €35,000 when hiring a full-time employee as part of an expansion plan.
As you can see, a wide and sometimes complex array of options are available. Don’t hesitate to seek support! The employer support service at Actiris is there to advise you. Your local social security office can also help. When making your decision, seek advice from experienced entrepreneurs and compare the rates offered, which can vary greatly.