This chapter tells you what you need to know in order to claim unemployment benefits in Belgium.
If you have worked and paid social security contributions in another European Union country, your period of work and the contributions you have paid can, under certain conditions, be taken into account in the calculation of the amount of your benefits in Belgium.
In what situation can I claim?
Employees covered by social security can obtain unemployment benefits if they meet the necessary conditions.
Young persons who are unemployed after their vocational training can, in certain circumstances, receive a flat-rate allowance called an integration benefit, the amount of which varies depending on their family situation and their age. Payment of this benefit is limited to three years.
No unemployment insurance scheme exists for self-employed persons. However there is a transitional benefit (a financial benefit and continuation of some social security rights for a maximum of one year of a self-employed person’s working life) in the event of bankruptcy, judicial settling of debts (règlement collectif des dettes), forced cessation of work in the event of force majeure or cessation because of economic difficulties. This benefit is not granted by unemployment insurance. It should be requested from the self-employed worker’s social insurance fund.
What conditions do I need to meet?
In order to benefit from unemployment benefits you have to fulfil the following conditions:
- have worked a minimum number of days (between 312 and 624) in a specified period (from 21 to 42 months) depending on your age;
- be deprived of work and earnings because of circumstances beyond your control;
- be able to work and be available on the labour market;
- be registered as a job-seeker with the competent employment service (FOREM, Actiris or VDAB) and be prepared to accept a suitable job or to undertake a training course offered to you;
- be actively looking for work and cooperate with the support activities and training offered by the employment service. Individual interviews will be held to assess if you are making sufficient efforts to get back into the job market. If your efforts are considered to be inadequate payment of your benefits may be suspended;
- be under retirement age (65);
- your usual residence must be in Belgium.
Unemployment regime with company supplement (RCC) is a system which allows certain older workers to obtain a supplementary allowance in addition to unemployment benefits. To be entitled to the unemployment regime with company supplement (RCC), you must:
- be aged 62 with a working career of 40 years (men) or 36 years (women);
- have been dismissed;
- be entitled to unemployment benefit;
- withdraw from the labour market.
More information about the RCC can be found on the ONEM website (National Employment Office): http://www.onem.be/fr.
What am I entitled to and how can I claim?
Unemployment benefits are granted for all the days of the week except Sunday.
You have to apply for benefits to your trade union or to the Auxiliary Unemployment Benefits Fund (the CAPAC).Duration
The duration of the payment of unemployment benefit is, in principle, unlimited. However, the amount of the benefit gradually reduces ("digression") depending on the duration of the unemployment and taking into account the previous work history as an employee. The current minimums for the amounts of benefit are nonetheless guaranteed. Moreover, you must be making effective attempts to find work and, as appropriate, adhere to the action plan which has been put in place for you. Otherwise your benefits may be reduced or temporarily suspended.Amount
The amount of the benefit depends on:
- the amount of the last salary received (subject to an upper monthly limit of € 2,754.76 for the first 6 months of unemployment, of € 2,567.49 for the 6 following months and of €2,399.25 after 12 months);
- the family situation (cohabiting with dependent family, single, cohabiting without dependent family) starting from the second year of unemployment;
- the length of your professional activity prior to your unemployment situation;
- the length of time since you registered as unemployed. For the first year (3 + 3 + 6 months):
Amount of the last salary received
first 3 months of unemployment
next 3 months
following 6 months
This first one-year period is followed by a 2-month period, extended by 2 months per year of working career as employee. This second period can not exceed 36 months and is subdivided in 5 phases. During the first phase lasting 12 months maximum:
- cohabitants with dependent family members receive 60% of the last pay received;
- single persons receive 55% of the last pay received;
- cohabitants with no dependent family members receive 40% of the last pay received.
During the next four phases totalling 24 months maximum, the allowances are reduced in four stages.
During the third period, after maximum 48 months of unemployment, the full-time unemployed person receives a flat-rate allowance.
Degression of the amount of benefit does not apply to persons:
- with a long professional past (at least 25 years);
- aged 55 or over;
- who are permanently unemployable for at least one third of the time.
Unemployed persons aged 60 and over may be entitled, under certain conditions, to a "seniority supplement" from the 2nd year of unemployment. In particular the beneficiary must be able to demonstrate a working career of at least 20 years. The amount of the seniority supplement depends on the family circumstances and the age of the applicant.Income guarantee benefit (AGR - Allocation de garantie de revenu)
If you are unemployed and you undertake part-time work in certain cases you can receive a supplementary allowance which is additional to your earnings. This income guarantee benefit (AGR) aims to guarantee that you have an overall income which:
- is at least equal to your unemployment benefit if your part-time work does not exceed 1/3 of your time;
- is higher than your unemployment benefit if your part-time work exceeds 1/3 of your time.
- Unemployment regime with company supplement (RCC): formerly an early retirement arrangement, this system enables certain older workers who are made redundant to obtain a supplementary allowance which is additional to unemployment benefit and is borne by their ex-employer. This system is not an early retirement pension.
- National Employment Office (ONEM - Office national de l'emploi): the ONEM is a public social security institution which implements the unemployment-insurance system and other similar benefits, as well as certain employment measures.
- Income guarantee benefit (AGR) allowance received in addition to your earnings if you undertake part-time work.
Forms you may need to fill in
The forms to complete are available online on the ONEM website
Know your rights
The links below allow you to find out more about your rights. These sites are not dependent upon the European Commission and so do not represent the viewpoints of the latter;
- The website of the Federal Public Service for Social Security;
- The website of the FGTB trade union;
- The website of the CSC trade union;
- The website of the CGSLB trade union.
Commission publication and websites:
Who do you need to contact?
The National Employment Office (ONEM)
Find the office where you live: https://www.onem.be
- Address (central administration): Boulevard de l'Empereur 7 - 1000 Brussels
- Telephone number (main): +32 25154111
- Website: https://www.www.onem.be
Paying organisations:Fédération générale des travailleurs de Belgique (FGTB) - Belgian General Federation of Labour
- Address (central administration): Rue Haute 42 - 1000 Brussels
- Telephone: +32 25068211
- Website: http://www.fgtb.be
- Address (central administration): Chaussée de Haecht 579 - 1031 Brussels
- Telephone: +32 22463111
- Address (central administration): Avenue Roi Albert 95 - 9000 Ghent
- Telephone: +32 92225751
- Website: https://www.csc-en-ligne.be/default.html https://www.csc-en-ligne.be
- Address (central administration): Rue de Brabant 62 - 1210 Brussels
- Telephone: +32 22091313
- Website: https://www.capac.fgov.be/fr