Youth Employment

Information about the work opportunities and regulations for teenagers, students and school leavers in Belgium...

There are strict guidelines for those employing under 18 year olds (and certain restrictions apply also to 18 to 21 year olds) regarding the type of work that they may undertake. Many jobs involving the use of machinery, exposure to chemicals or potentially dangerous substances and jobs which require physical strength, which a young person may find difficult, are forbidden.

  • Safe Start is a web portal for the safety and health of young workers (in French & Dutch)

The employer must provide an induction programme on the first day of work covering the contract, hours of work and health and safety at work. It is the employer's responsibility to anticipate any potential dangers or problems which may come from the young person's lack of experience, and to take steps to avoid problems or accidents.

Casual work can be hard to find. However, there are always people looking for reliable baby-sitters and this can be a good source of income for young people. Some of the expatriate websites post small ads where students can advertise their babysitting services.

Students

Anyone over 15 may look for part-time work. Students wishing to work during their holidays and in term-time can do so, but there are certain conditions. The employer and student pay reduced rate social security contributions as long as the student works no more than 50 days during the year (with one or several employers). If the student exceeds these limits the right to reduced contributions is lost.

Employment agencies specialise in either full-time or temporary work. Students can approach a temping agency (une agence interim) for work but will find that agencies are often reluctant to help under 18s because of the administrative and legal situation surrounding the employment of minors. The trial period is seven to 14 days.

Normal working hours are between 38 and 39 hours per week for a full-time post. Pay and benefits must be equal to those paid to other permanent members of staff undertaking the same work.

  • To download a PDF document with detailed information on the employment rules for students: Click here (in French)
  • To download a PDF document detailing the rules for part time work: Click here (in French)
  • To download a PDF document with key information on employment for young people: Click here (in French)

Students are allowed to earn a certain amount before they must pay tax; the amount varies according to family situation.

Child benefit is still available for students over 18 years of age. However, 18 to 25 year olds in education who work in excess of a specified number of hours will find the benefit reduced or stopped.

School Leavers

School leavers looking for work must register with the National Employment Office (Office National de l'Emploi, ONEM) as soon as possible. Since they have not built up any entitlement to unemployment benefit they can only apply for what is known as a waiting allowance (allocation d'attente). They should then visit the local employment office in their area.

There are three employment services in Belgium catering for the various communities.

  • Flemish Community: VDAB (in Dutch)
  • Wallonia: FOREM (in French)
  • Brussels/Central region: Actiris (in French)

There is a shortage of work for young and inexperienced people. Young people are sometimes offered additional training to improve their work prospects.

Once in work, holiday entitlement is accumulated at a rate of two days for each month worked. Students who begin work in the six months following the end of their studies will receive holiday pay for the whole year.

  • Teenagers can also consult the site Infor Jeunes, which has information for 16 to 25 year olds regarding their rights.