- 06 Dec 2013
The government is taking an increasingly harder line in dealing with the problem of abuses by foreign subcontractors, with increased inspections, a stricter prosecution policy and more severe penalties.
The problem of dishonest foreign subcontractors pricing Belgian undertakings out of the market by posting "cheap" foreign employees, has already led to a lot of legislation this year (measures regarding joint and several liability, fake self-employment, fraudulent posting of personnel, etc.). We already informed you about those different measures in previous Newsflashes .
On 28 November 2013 the Council of Ministers approved an Operational Action Plan to convert this new legislation into a series of actions. The Action Plan foresees:
1) goal-oriented inspections by specialised and coordinated teams;
2) a clear route for prosecution of the offenders;
3) more severe penalties.
The goal-oriented inspections will first be executed by the different inspection services and the Public Prosecutor. Of the 12,000 inspections planned, at least 1,500 will be aimed at cross-border social dumping. Further, a specialised "social dumping" unit will be set up and in every judicial department, with at least one member of the Public Prosecutor's office charged full-time with social dumping.
Furthermore, as from now violations will get prosecuting priority, which means that violations will in principle be pursued before the criminal courts. Finally, the penalties will be more severe though it is still unclear what exactly the government has in mind in this regard.
This possible criminal liability does not lie exclusively with the foreign subcontractor. The (Belgian) principal and its management are - already today - seldom spared.
> Action point
Screen your (foreign) agreements with subcontractors. Be very careful with subcontractors which offer extremely attractive prices, since they should be respecting the Belgian minimum wages and labour conditions.
Prepare the inspections of the inspection services proactively. Know your rights with regard to the inspectors.