Student work: points of attention
In the framework of the corona crisis, the government has announced that the hours a student performs between April 1 and June 30, 2020, will not be counted towards the annual quota of 475 hours. What does this mean? And 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 and potentially busier times upon an exit from the lockdown. In this newsletter, we will also address two more recent developments regarding student work: the obligation of the employer to have a copy of the enrolment certificate of the student and the expansion of the number of “NSSO-advantageous” hours of student work in the framework of the corona crisis.
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 normal social security contributions. 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 priorly concluded written student agreement that contains certain legally mandatory provisions. 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 If the student works more than 475 hours, the solidarity contribution is no longer applicable and regular social security contributions (as for a normal employee) will be due as from the 476th hour onwards.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.
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 Q2 2020 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 second quarter of 2020 (April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020) will not count towards the annual quota of 475 hours.
Students who work in Q2 will therefore be able to work more than 475 hours with the lower solidarity contribution in calendar year 2020. Please note that the web application of Student@work has not been adapted to the new rule yet.
This is applicable to all students, regardless of the sector in which they are employed. The other principles as mentioned above remain applicable (Dimona, student contract in writing etc).
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: 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.