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Paying social security contributions

Employers are responsible for paying the social security contributions for their employees.

Last modifications : 14 December 2016

What kinds of contributions are there?

There are two kinds of social security contributions:

  • The ordinary social security contributions, which consist of:
    • employee’s contributions
    • employer’s contributions
  • The ‘special contributions’.

Ordinary social security contributions

In the private sector, the employee’s contributions amount to 13.07% of the gross salary.

In the private sector, the employer’s contribution amounts to ±32% of the gross salary.

In the public sector, these contributions are sometimes substantially lower because certain social security benefits are not handled by the social security office, but are paid to employees by the employer itself (e.g. family allowances, payment of wages in the case of illness or accident,…).

Blue-collar workers and artists

For blue-collar workers and artists, the social security contributions are calculated on the gross salary plus 8%. This is because these employees do not receive their normal holiday pay from their employer, but from the National Office for Annual Holidays or a holiday fund. Thus, unlike white-collar employees, they do not pay social security contributions on their normal holiday pay. To make up for that difference, the basis for calculating social security contributions is increased by 8%.

What is included under gross salary?

The salary includes more than the hourly or monthly wage paid to the employee. It also includes a variety of other benefits such as:

  • end-of-year bonuses
  • bonuses for overtime
  • a guaranteed salary in the case of illness
  • benefits in kind (e.g. the use of a mobile phone)

The employer may also grant benefits to its employee(s) that are not subject to social security contributions. All of these benefits are subject to legal requirements.

A full list of all the benefits can be found in the Administrative Instructions (*).

Some benefits are not a part of the salary, but do require special contributions. The best known example is a company car to be used by the employee for private purposes and/or for commuting to and from work.

Expenses that belong to the employee but that are paid by the employer (e.g. telephone and travel expenses) are not a part of the salary.

Standard salaries

For most employees, the NSSO calculates the contributions on the actual gross salary. However for specific groups such as occasional workers in agriculture and horticulture, a standard amount is assumed (e.g. per day worked).

Special contributions

Some contributions are called “special” because they are not directly intended for the domain of social security or because they are payable only in certain circumstances.

Special contributions may be borne by the employer or the employee; some must be paid for by the employer and the employee.

Examples of special contributions that must be paid by the employer are:

  • the contribution on non-statutory pensions
  • contributions to the Fund for the Closing-down of Firms (FCF)
  • the solidarity contribution (CO2 contribution) for the use of a company car

Examples of special contributions that must be paid by the employee are:

  • the amount withheld for the double holiday allowance
  • the solidarity contribution on profit sharing
  • the special contribution for social security

For more information about the special contributions can be found in the Administrative Instructions (*).

Reductions in contributions

There is a reduced contribution for employees with low salaries: the “work bonus”. This allows low-salaried employees a greater net salary without increasing the gross salary.

Many employers also qualify for a reduction in social security contributions. The aim is to reduce wage costs for employers.

The two main types of contribution reductions for employers are:

  • the structural reduction, which consists of a fixed component and a part that varies according to the salary of the employee;
  • the target group reduction: a fixed reduction amount that depends on certain criteria that the employer and/or employee must meet. Only one target group reduction may be used per employee. Some examples are:
    • initial hirings
    • long-term unemployed
    • redundancies due to restructuring
    • childminders
    • artists

A more detailed explanation can be found in the Administrative Instructions (*).

Payment

Quarterly payment

The employer must deduct the employee’s contribution from each salary payment. If it fails to do so, it may not recover this from the employee afterwards. It must forward the employee’s contribution, together with the employer’s contribution, to the NSSO quarterly. Most employers are required to pay monthly advances on the quarterly contribution.

More information can be found in the Administrative Instructions (*).

Annual payment

In addition to the quarterly contributions, the employer must pay the following contributions once per year:

•    A part of the contributions intended to finance the holiday pay of employees;

•    The amounts that larger employers owe in the context of a redistribution operation. Each year, the NSSO performs a calculation that aims to give back to smaller employers a part of the social security contributions paid.

Payment deferral

Employers who (temporarily) fail to pay their social security contributions can be granted a deferral of payment under certain conditions. The NSSO will then draw up a payment plan in consultation with the employer.

More information can be found in the Administrative Instructions (*).

Penalties

Employers who do not pay social security contributions on time will be charged a contribution surcharge of 10% on the amount paid late; penalty interest will also be charged. Inadequate advance payments are sanctioned in a different way.

More information can be found in the Administrative Instructions (*).

 

(*) The Administrative instructions and the online applications on the Social Security Portal are only available in Dutch or French.

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