Belgian social security protection in the European middle range
Deloitte Social Security Study – 1st edition
Diegem, 28 January 2017 – Belgium hasn’t yet played a pioneering role in the drive to reform social security. Trying to go along with the European trends seems to be the sole ambition at this time. Today Deloitte announced for the first time, the results of its European social security study. This large-scale study created in collaboration with Filip Van Overmeiren, lawyer at Laga, compares the different social security systems in 26 European countries. The study shows that whilst Belgium has a sound social protection model, employees in Belgium still proportionately pay higher contributions.
Belgium continues to be one of the most expensive countries when it comes to social security costs for employees
With (uncapped) employee contributions of 13.07% and about 32% of employer contributions on the gross salary of employees, only France and Hungary outdo Belgium with an even higher parafiscal pressure. “This pressure is naturally lighter in countries where no social security contributions have to be paid once a certain ceiling is exceeded, such as our neighbouring countries Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.” , says Filip Van Overmeiren, lawyer at Laga.
In spite of high social security costs, the Belgian employee gets average social protection
Whereas, as is known, our healthcare is of high quality, there are other social security benefits which should be termed average. With a maximum legal gross pension of ca. €2,500 per month, we score as high as Germany, but higher than France and the Netherlands. In those countries, the emphasis is far more on supplementary pensions. We must however bow before the sky high Luxembourg maximum pension of ca. €8,000. With our legal retirement age of 65, we are also around the average. There are various European countries that have already raised the retirement age to 67, while that is planned for us only in 2030. The increase of the early retirement age (now still at 62; 63 as of 2019) is likewise somewhere in the mid railcar of the European train.
Family allowance for the first child in Belgium is rather on the low end
As regards family allowances for the first child, there is still a clear boundary between Eastern and Western Europe, as for other social security benefits, where Western European sums (ca. ± €60 to €200 per month) are easily double the sums in Eastern Europe (between ± €11 and €45 per month). With €90 for the first child, Belgium is on the lower end of Western European amounts. Our neighbouring country the Netherlands is still lower, with €63, while France grants a family allowance only as of a second child. Belgium does have increased benefits for a second and third child. As in many other countries, and with some exceptions (i.e. in case of higher education), the maximum age for family allowances is in theory 18.
Maternity leave in Belgium is short compared with other European countries
For maternity protection, Belgium dangles at the bottom with a very short maternity leave of 15 weeks, compared with the average of 26 weeks in the countries studied. New mothers get far more time for instance in Estonia (82 weeks), Bulgaria and Norway (both 59 weeks). Iceland is a pioneer with maternity leave of 3 months plus a combined parental leave of 3 months, to be distributed freely between mother and father. With 10 days of paternity leave, Belgian men are in a comparable situation as their foreign counterparts, where paternity leave normally counts between 1 and 14 days.
Belgian unemployed workers are the only ones in the EEA to receive lifelong unemployment benefit
The roundup in every European social security debate continues to be the Belgian situation concerning unemployment benefits. Belgium is in fact the only country in the European Economic Area where people can receive lifelong unemployment benefits. The amount of the benefit drops over time, but the period of payment is in theory unlimited.
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