UK: Employing Foreign Workers On The Belgian Territory: Watch Out As From 31 March!

Last Updated: 10 April 2013
Article by Stefan Nerinckx

On 1 June 2011, the federal government signed a cooperation agreement with the regions and communities on coordination of the controls on illegal employment and social security fraud. The Act of 1 March 2013 implementing this agreement will now come into force on 31 March 2013. 

The aim of the Act is better, more efficient coordination between the different inspectorates (regional and federal) with the aim of cracking down on the illegal employment of foreign workers and social security fraud. Only recently, the government have further tightened up enforcement of the law on joint liability for wages, social security and income tax for employment of foreign nationals in Belgium (see Stefan Nerinckx, Employment of illegal aliens tightened up and secondment to Belgium: joint and several liability for wages, Expat News n°6, June 2012), loans of staff (e.g. new obligations for international secondments ( HR Legal Focus of 10 January 2013), anti-abuse in respect of international social security ( HR legal Focus of 29 January 2013), and so on.

To achieve more efficient coordination of inspections, the agreement includes active exchanges of information stored on various databases (work permits are issued regionally, residence permits at federal level, etc.), organisation of joint training, multi-skill audits/inspections, etc.

Permanent cooperation and the organisation and coordination of controls is organised under the leadership of the public (labour) prosecutor.

Employing foreign workers without legal residence

In the same context, the Act of 11 February 2013 setting down the sanctions and measures for employers of illegally resident third-country nationals came into force on 4 March 2013 (Belgian Official Gazette of 22 February 2013). The act is a partial transposition of Directive 2009/52/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, which forms part of the general campaign to combat illegal migration in the EU and encourage legal migration.

Below, we summarise the main points to watch out for from the act.

1. Obligations on employers

In general,

  • the employer must examine up front whether an employee (a third-country national) is in possession of a valid residence permit
  • the employer has to keep a copy of the residence permit available for inspection during the period of employment
  • the employer must file a declaration/notification for commencement and termination of the third-country national worker's employment. This can be done via DIMONA/LIMOSA (we will be coming back in a following newsletter on the amended LIMOSA regulations stipulated in the RD of 19 March 2013, applicable as from 1 July 2013)

In addition, if the employer (Belgian-established or foreign) breaches the Foreign Workers Employment Act of 30 April 1999 by having work done or procuring work by a foreign national who is not permitted or authorised to stay for more than three months or to settle in Belgium, he is liable to pay:

  • salary equal to the salary he would have to pay a legally employed worker; this payment obligation extends to social security and taxes
  • the costs of repatriation
  • a lump sum for accommodation
  • residence and health care for the foreign worker and his family
  • penalties for late payment and administrative fines

Finally, an employee with no legal residence who is employed on the basis of an employment contract is deemed to have worked for at least three months unless there is evidence to the contrary. This means, in principle, that the wages for three months and any termination payment will be calculated on the basis of three months' employment.

2. Joint liability for outstanding wages

A contractor (outside or in the framework of a chain of subcontractor's liability) and subcontractor are jointly and severally liable for the wage that has not yet been paid to an employee with no legal residence. The same goes for taxes and social security.

The (sub-)contractor is not jointly and severally liable if he has a written statement from his direct subcontractor confirming that he does not employ any third-country nationals who have no legal residence. The (sub-)contractor will, however, be jointly and severally liable again once he is aware that his direct subcontractor is employing one or more third-country nationals without legal residence.

A principal who knows that his (sub)contractor employs workers without any legal residence permit is jointly and severally liable for the wage that has not yet been paid to an employee with no legal residence.

3. Criminal liability

On conviction, employing staff without being in possession of a work authorisation/permit carries a criminal fine of between 600 and 6,000 euros, or an administrative fine ranging between 300 and 3,000 euros multiplied by the number of illegally employed workers.

Employers can also incur criminal penalties inter alia for not first investigating the employee's residence permit (and keeping a copy of it available for the authorities) and for non-payment of wages for which they are jointly and severally liable. Employing staff without checking they are in possession of a residence card or – as an employer – not holding a copy carries a penalty against the employer of imprisonment of between 6 months and three years and a criminal fine of between 3,600 and 36,000 euros or an administrative fine ranging between 1,800 and 18,000 euros. The same goes for the mandatory, principal, main contractor or intermediate contractor where their subcontractor does not comply with the obligations to check and keep a copy of the employee's residence permit. The fines are multiplied by the number of employees concerned. In addition, the court can order a trading prohibition, block individuals from carrying on a certain occupation or order closure of a business.

Finally: the illegally staying employee can raise proceedings; other organisations can also take on the defence of illegally staying employees in court proceedings. These include employee and employer organisations, trade unions and the Equal Opportunities and Race Equality Centre.

So watch out as employer as not only the sanctions in employing illegally third country nationals are tightened but the control mechanisms become also much more efficient.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.