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How to find job in Belgium

Belgium 14 August 2008, 00:00

If you are an expat, there are a handful of suitable jobs and an awful lot of job-seekers. But it can be done. Here's a guide to finding employment in Belgium.

If you are an expat, there are a handful of suitable jobs and an awful lot of job-seekers. But it can be done. Here's a guide to finding employment in Belgium. Before working in Belgium, and especially if you are a non-EU national, make sure your work permits and residence papers are in order. 

Brussels, being the seat of the European Union and European Parliament, can be a big pull-factor for expatriates. Although advertisements for jobs within these institutions do appear from time to time, you will more often than not have to pass a series of examinations in order to become listed on their reserve list of possible employees. This procedure takes about a year and a job is not guaranteed at the end of it.

Languages

If you are competing in the national job market, you will likely need an excellent command of French or Dutch, depending on where the job is based - or both if in Brussels.  A third language such as English is either a bonus or a job requirement.   In the international arena you are certainly going to need English with French or Dutch as a working language.  Any language in addition to that is a bonus.

Where to Look

Finding work depends very much on your language abilities in this multi-lingual country.  If you are happy to work in French or Dutch (or preferably both in Brussels), then the national newspapers Le Soir and Het Laatse Nieuws are excellent places to start.

For English speakers, Expatica (jobs.expatica.com),  the weekly newspapers, The European Voice and The Bulletin advertise international secretarial and managerial positions typically in public affairs and teaching. There are also a range of recruitment agencies focused on the expatriate offering jobs at various levels.  Headhunting agencies are also common in Belgium, but tend to specialise in executive positions.

Work Permits for non-EU nationals

Type B: This type is the more usual one and is valid for one specified employer for a renewable period of one year. If you change jobs your permit is invalidated. To obtain this type of work permit your potential employer must apply for an employment authorisation from the regional employment office. Once this is issued you are automatically eligible for the type B permit. A medical certificate may be required. Type A: Valid for unlimited time for any employer. To apply for this either you must have resided legally in Belgium for a continuous period of five years, or you must have lived and worked in Belgium for at least four years and already hold a type B.

Starting Work

Once you have found a job, there is usually a probationary period of two weeks for blue collar workers and anything between a month and twelve months for white collar, depending on salary . Typically, those earning less than EUR 34.261 will have a trial period of one to six months, whilst those earning more can be on trial for as much as 12 months. During this period either side can terminate the employment with seven days notice.The average working week is 38 hours, although longer working hours are common, particularly in international institutions.

Overtime regulations do not apply in all circumstances, so be prepared not to receive time in lieu or compensation for working overtime.In Belgium, you must work for one year before any holiday entitlement is paid. That is then calculated on the basis of how many months you were in the job for the preceding year. However, if you worked a full calendar year, you are then entitled to a minimum of twenty days. In addition there are ten legal holidays in Belgium, many of them religious days. If a legal day falls at the weekend, you are entitled to a day off in lieu. You are also entitled to a holiday allowance which varies according to the type of job.

Unemployment agencies

ORBEM
www.orbem.be
Boulevard Anspach 65
1000 Brussels
02 505 1411

VDAB
www.vdab.be
Keizerlaan 11
1000 Brussels
02 506 15 11

Forem
www.forem.be
Wavre Office:
010 224 324

 

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