Within the European Union, the movement of capital has been liberalised, so that in principle, it can move freely. Belgium does not restrict the transfer of money.
Belgium has developed a progressive good system of electronic banking, which has replace cheques to a good extent. Most Belgians do not only carry credit cards but also automatic payment or cash cards (Bancontact/Mister Cash) which allow them to draw directly on their bank accounts, and even an electronic purse 'Proton' which can be charged in any automatic teller machine.
To open a current account, one has to show some form of identity. Proof of liquidity will get one a cheque guarantee card, which is normally also used as a cash cards. Current accounts bear interest at 0.50% ; savings accounts around 2.50%. Transfers of money from abroad can be expensive and take a long time, unless they are made by Swift transfer
European Council Directive 86/653 has been transposed into Belgian law by law of 13 April 1995. It regulates the contract whereby a principal commissions a self-employed agent to negotiate and/or sign contracts in his name and on his behalf.
The principal must give the agent all the necessary documentation and information and he must also inform the agent, within a reasonable period of time, of the acceptance, refusal or non-execution of a transaction negotiated by the agent. The agent must protect the principal's interests, provide him with all necessary information, and follow all reasonable instructions.
The agent is entitled to a commission fee in the form of a fixed periodic fee (e.g. a monthly fee) or in the form of a transaction related commission fee. A combination of both is also acceptable. Unless criteria have been laid down to calculate the commission fee, it is determined either by reference to the economic sector or as a percentage which is equitable in the specific circumstances of the transaction.
Unless otherwise agreed, the agency contract is for an indefinite duration. Both parties then have the right to terminate the contract in advance by serving notice to the other. The period of notice is one month per year of service, with a maximum of six months (which can be extended). The agreement can also be terminated with immediate effect if there is a serious cause which needs to be invoked within seven working days.
After the end of the agency agreement, the agent may be entitled to a commission fee for transactions which he has negotiated or started, an (additional) indemnity in lieu of notice if insufficient notice has been served, and an indemnity for goodwill if he has significantly enlarged the principal's customer base or turnover.
A non-competition clause (for a maximum of 6 months) is not valid, unless agreed in writing and restricted to the type of business for which the agent was appointed and to the geographical territory or the group of potential customers assigned to the agent. If there is a non-competition clause, the principal will have to pay an indemnity for goodwill.
If the agent is established in Belgium, Belgian law governs the agency agreement, and any dispute must be submitted to the Belgian courts.
Such service contract will be governed by the ordinary principles of contract law, which means not only that parties can freely agree the terms and conditions of their agreement but also that each party has to act in good faith. This principle may moderate certain aspects of the agreement so that - unless specifically agreed - one party cannot terminate the contract without any notice or indemnity.
It is, however, preferable to lay down all terms and conditions of the agreement, not only to determine both parties' rights and obligations, but also to ensure that both parties have a correct understanding of the agreement.
You can also work as a self-employed in Belgium. Sometimes a contract as a self-employed consultant with an employer can be a (cheaper) alternative for an employment contract.
As a self-employed, you have to register with the social security authorities to pay social security contributions , with the crossroads database for enterprises (Kruispuntbank ondernemingen / banque carrefour des enterprises) and with the VAT Authorities.
Employment contracts are usually made in the form of a written agreement, which lays down all terms of employment. Any issues, which are not specifically dealt with in the agreement, will be dealt with in the way laid down in the work regulations adopted by the employer, or in the Belgian employment law.
An employment contract must not necessarily be in writing. However, certain terms and conditions, such as a trial clause, a non-competition clause, or a part time contracts are not valid unless they are agreed in writing. Unless otherwise agreed, the contract is for an indefinite period of time.
In Belgium, an employee is normally entitled to 20 days of paid annual vacation, apart from the 10 official public holidays.
In case of sickness or accident, the employer will pay the first month's salary to (white collar) employees. For the remaining period of sickness, an indemnity is paid by the social security system.
Employees are entitled to a basic wage, normally calculated and payable on a monthly basis.
The employee can also be entitled to fringe benefits (such as the use of a company cars, see below, luncheon vouchers, pension schemes, medical insurance, ...)
In addition to his salary, an employee is entitled to an additional holiday pay equal to 92% of one month's salary. In many sectors of industry, employees are also entitled to an end of year bonus, generally called “13th month”.
The Belgian employer pays the employee a net salary after deduction of the social security contributions and the withholding tax on the salary. The employer usually relies on a payroll agency for these calculations. The payroll agency delivers monthly pay slips, which show how the net salary is calculated.
This pay slip shows: