Starting as self-employed in secondary occupation: pros and cons

Last modified:

Thursday 31 October 2019

Brussels has thousands of self-employed professionals in secondary occupation and that number only increased in recent years. This special status obviously has many advantages.

Definition of self-employed in secondary occupation

The rule is simple: if you want to start as a self-employed person in secondary occupation, you must have another job at least half-time. This is possible if you …

… work as a blue- or white-collar employee for at least half of the number of hours of a full-time contract (38-hour week);

… work as a civil servant at least 200 days or 8 months a year on a half-time or full-time schedule;

… deliver as an appointed teacher at least 6/10 of a full-time work schedule;

… are unemployed and meet strict conditions (FR).

… receive a benefit from your health insurance fund and are at least 66% incapacitated for work.

Obligations as a self-employed person in secondary occupation

‘Secondary occupation’ is not a separate social status, which means that you have the same obligations as a self-employed person in main occupation. For instance, you join a social insurance fund and you pay social security contributions every quarter. You should continue to enjoy the social benefits you get through your main activity.

Benefits of being a self-employed person in secondary occupation

Why are there so many self-employed people in secondary occupation? Because they can enjoy a number of benefits. These are the six main advantages :

1. Additional income

You get an additional income on top of the salary from your main job. This is definitely a welcome addition for the unemployed as well, as they can earn up to 350 euros a month. Income in excess of that amount is then refunded to the RVA/ONEM.

2. A diverse working life

Sometimes, the person’s independent activity is directly related to his or her main occupation, but that is not always the case. There are bookkeepers, for example, who give tennis lessons; train drivers who become nutrition coaches or policemen who carry out renovations. It’s ideal for those who seek to escape their daily routine. Make sure you find a viable balance between the two activities.

3. Tax benefits

You can deduct as professional expenses the costs that you incur in the context of your secondary occupation. You can, for example, add the purchase of your PC, printer, car, restaurant ... to your tax return. Not sure what you cant or cannot claim? Consul an accountant.

4. Simplified VAT

Even if you are liable for VAT, you can choose between the traditional quarterly VAT return and the VAT exemption (FR) for small businesses. With the latter option you don’t charge VAT yourself, you don’t get VAT refunded on your purchases and you don’t have to submit quarterly returns. In short: less paperwork. In the other case, you can reclaim the VAT on your expenses as a self-employed person.

5. The ideal springboard

While retaining your fixed income, you are able to decide whether life as a self-employed person is something for you. Another plus: if you have taken the plunge to obtain a separate social status as a self-employed person, it means that your administration is already in order and that you can rely on a first work experience and a professional network.

6. Social security

You retain the social rights that arise from your main activity at all times.

The cons of being a self-employed person in secondary occupation

Social rights

No possibility to build up (additional) social rights. The contributions that you pay are so-called solidarity contributions. You will benefit from this only if you contribute as much as a self-employed person in main occupation.

Heavy taxes

Since the income from your independent activity is added to your main income, you may end up in a higher tax bracket.

Less free time

Two jobs mean less time for your private life. Stress is never far away. Work out a feasible weekly schedule for yourself.

Any questions about the pros and cons of being a self-employed person in secondary occupation?

Get in touch with one of our advisors by email at or by phone on 1819.

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