Belgium: Additional voluntary overtime system possible until 2025
The social partners have agreed that from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2025, employers and employees in all sectors will again be able to make use of additional voluntary overtime, or “relance hours”. This system already existed between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2022, and is now being reinstated. The law has not yet been passed, but the application of the system will be accepted from 1 July 2023 by the Federal Public Service of Work.
Additional voluntary overtime entails that employees can perform up to 120 voluntary overtime hours per calendar year, on top of the base quota of voluntary overtime provided for in Article 25bis of the Labour Act of 1971 (and CBA no. 129). This base quota of voluntary overtime already allows employees to perform 120 voluntary overtime hours, which can be increased to 360 hours in each sector. The hours of the basic quota give right to overtime pay of 50% (Monday to Saturday) or 100% (Sundays and holidays), but not to compensatory rest.
To make use of the additional voluntary overtime, it is not required that the base quota of voluntary overtime has been used up.
Contrary to what is the case for the base quota of voluntary overtime, additional voluntary overtime does not give right to overtime pay. Neither does it lead to compensatory rest. The hours are not counted toward the average weekly working time, or toward the internal limit of overtime hours in the reference period.
In addition, wages for these hours will be exempt from social security contributions and from tax, although pending the publication of the law, payroll withholding tax must still be paid by the employer. These exemptions make the system beneficial for both employer and employee, but they only apply if the employer pays no overtime pay for these hours.
Given that the system is voluntary, written consent of the employee is required. This consent can be given for a renewable period of 6 months and must be given expressly and in advance.
Take aways for additional voluntary overtime
- 120 hours per calendar year;
- No overtime pay or compensatory rest;
- No social security contributions or tax;
- Written consent of the employee.