Student work and the points of attention
In the context of the corona crisis, the government has announced that certain hours performed by students will not be counted towards the annual quota of 475 hours. Which hours are impacted and what does this mean in practice? What exactly are the conditions for student work?
A perfect time to outline the basic principles of student work before the start of the summer.
Who is eligible for student work?
A student has to be at least 16 years old (15 years if he completed the first two years of secondary school) and has to follow a full-time training curriculum. Someone following an evening class is not considered eligible for student work.
A student finishing school in June and graduating, can work with a student contract until September 30 of the same year.
The student can work a maximum of 12 subsequent months.
Lower solidarity contribution for student work and quota of 475 hours
Under certain conditions, student work is exempt from regular social security contributions (ca. 28% for the employer and 13,07% for the student). Student work is subject to a much lower solidarity contribution (5,42% for the employer and 2,71% for the student), provided that the following conditions are met:
- The student is employed in the framework of a written student agreement that contains certain legally mandatory provisions and is concluded prior to the start of the activities. The student contract is always a fixed-term contract (max. 12 months).
- The student works a maximum of 475 hours during the calendar year (the quota of 475 hours). If the student works more than 475 hours, the solidarity contribution is no longer applicable and regular social security contributions (as for a normal employee) will be due as from the 476th hour onwards.
- The student can consult the number of worked hours at Student@work. He or she can also download a certificate confirming the number of available hours of the quota. We highly recommend requesting this certificate in advance in order to be sure of the number of quota hours the student has left to work with the advantageous solidarity contribution.
- The student is only allowed to work during periods he/she does not have to be present at school.
- The employer has performed a specific Dimona declaration for students prior to the start of the employment. If you prefer your Payroll Business Partner to make this declaration, please inform him/her at least two working days before the start of the employment.
Salary and working conditions
You have to pay at least the minimum salary in the sector, as applicable to your other employees (or the minimum salaries on company level if more advantageous rules were agreed upon) to the student, unless the sector itself provides an exception for student work. For example, in JIC 200 (joint industrial committee for white-collar employees), specific minimum salaries are provided for students.
As a general rule, the same labour law rules are applicable to students as to a normal employee. For example, students also have to receive a copy of the working regulations when they start their employment.
However, there are some exceptions to this general principle. A student contract contains a trial period of 3 days, students may work less than 1/3 of the weekly working time (in a 38 hour week, this implies that students may work less than 13 hours per week) and night work is prohibited in most cases for minors.
As an employer, you must be able to demonstrate that the person employed is actually a student. The NSSO therefore requires that you present the student’s enrolment certificate for the ongoing academic year upon their request.
Keeping that in mind, we highly recommend you to request the student to provide you with a copy of that enrolment certificate prior to the start of the employment and to keep this copy available at the company’s premises.
Extension quota 475 hours in Q1 and Q2 2021 for some sectors following the corona crisis
As indicated above, a student can work a maximum of 475 hours per calendar year with a lower solidarity contribution. In order to make it possible to use students to alleviate the increased work pressure in certain sectors due to the corona crisis, the government has decided that the hours a student works in the health care and education sector in the first and second quarter of 2021 (January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021) will not count towards the annual quota of 475 hours.
The institutions or services responsible for the operation of COVID-19 vaccination centers were also added to the list.
Students who work in Q1 and Q2 in the health care or education sector will therefore be able to work more than 475 hours with the lower solidarity contribution in calendar year 2021.
This rule is also applicable for students who are employed in the health care or education sector through a temporary employment agency. The other principles mentioned above remain valid (Dimona, a written student contract, etc).
The federal government has also decided that the hours worked by the students in the third quarter (July 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021) in sectors that were closed due to COVID-19 but which have reopened – restaurants and pubs, the event sector and cultural sector– will not count towards the annual quota of 475 hours.
Attention: this government decision has not been published yet!
What should you do as an employer?
Before the start of the student’s employment:
- Request enrolment certificate and certificate Student@work
- Sign student contract
- Perform Dimona declaration à inform Pro-Pay!
Upon start of employment: give the student a copy of the working regulations and ask him or her to sign an acknowledgement of receipt.