Unemployment benefits

If you have worked and paid social security contributions in another European Union country, you can enjoy an unemployment benefit in Belgium, this when you meet the applying conditions and complete some formalities.

Please note: Belgium does not have an unemployment insurance scheme for the self-employed. This information concerns employees only.

Conditions applicable to all employees

To receive unemployment benefit:

  • you must have worked a minimum number of days (between 312 and 624 days) in a specific period (from 21 to 42 months) depending on your age;
  • you must have lost your earnings and full time job due to circumstances beyond your control;
  • you must be fit to work and available on the labour market;
  • you must be registered as a job seeker with the relevant regional employment agency (FOREM, Actiris or VDAB) and prepared to accept a suitable job or undertake a training course offered to you;
  • you must be actively looking for work and must cooperate with any supportive initiatives and training offered by the employment agency. Individual interviews will be arranged to assess your efforts to re-enter the labour market. If your efforts are considered inadequate, your benefit payments may be suspended;
  • you must have reached retirement age (65);
  • your usual place of residence must be in Belgium.

Specific conditions for employees from abroad

If you have worked abroad before coming to Belgium:

  • You must have worked the required number of hours in a country with which Belgium has an agreement (in other words the EU and certain other countries; these are listed in information sheet T31 on the NEO (National Employment Office) website (in French).
  • After having working abroad, you must have worked for at least 3 months within the Belgian social security system. Please note: this does not apply to employees who are registered with the overseas social security system.

To find out more about the requirements for receiving unemployment benefits in Belgium, see information sheet T31 on the NEO website (in French).

Unemployment regime with company supplement (Stelsel van werkloosheid met bedrijfstoeslag – SWT)

Under this regime for Unemployement with company supplement (Stelsel van werkloosheid met bedrijfstoeslag - SWT)  eligible senior employees in Belgium having worked abroad before coming to Belgium can receive a supplementary allowance on top of their unemployment benefit. It is decribed in  the Specific conditions for employees from abroad.

To find out more, read information sheet T149 on the NEO website (in French).

To claim unemployment benefit, complete and sign Form C109 (in French) and send it to the Auxiliary Unemployment Benefits Fund (Hulpkas voor Werkloosheidsuitkeringen – HVW), or a trade union.

You must attach certain documents to your claim form:

  • If you have worked in a European Union country or in Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland: a European Form U1 (or E301) completed by the competent foreign institution. If you do not have this form, contact the NEO; they will contact the country concerned immediately and request this information.
  • If you have worked in another country: your contract or employer’s attestation stating the period of work, the hours, the pay, the nature of the work and the reason why your employment ended.

Duration

In principle, the benefit is paid for an unlimited period. However, the amount of the benefit gradually decreases depending on the duration of your unemployment and your employment history. The current minimum unemployment benefit is guaranteed.

Please note! The unemployment benefit can be reduced or even temporarily suspended if you do not fulfil your obligations, in other words do not actually look for work and in case you don't follow specific action plan prepared for you.

Amount

The amount of the benefit depends on:

  • the amount of your last salary;
  • your family situation from the second year of unemployment;
  • how long you have worked before you became unemployed; and
  • how long ago you registered as unemployed.

The National Employment Office (NEO)

If you have any questions about employment in Belgium or unemployment and unemployment benefits, contact the National Employment Office (NEO):

PAYMENT INSTITUTIONS

Your point of contact for unemployment benefit claims in Belgium is the Auxiliary Unemployment Benefits Fund (HVW):

In Belgium, trade unions also act as payment institutions for unemployment benefit and you can claim benefit from them:

Fédération générale des travailleurs de Belgique (FGTB)

Centrale générale des syndicats libéraux de Belgique (CGSLB)

  • Address (central administration): Chaussée de Haecht 579 - 1031 Brussels
  • Telephone: +32 2 246 31 11
  • Website: http://www.cgslb.be (in French)

Confédération des syndicats chrétiens (CSC)

  • Address (central administration): Avenue Roi Albert 95 - 9000 Gent
  • Telephone : +32 9 222 57 51
  • Website: www.lacsc.be/ (in French)