FAQ

Are you new to HR and looking for advice? Or are you an experienced HR-manager who's always on the look-out for new trends? In this FAQ you'll find answers to all your questions.

Payroll

What does your paycheck say?

The paycheck is a complicated and in many cases unstructured document that is hardly ever looked at by 7 out of 10 people. It doesn't help that the wage calculation in Belgium belongs to the top 3 most complex wage processes in Europe. Still, it's crucial to understand what's in your payslip. Below, we explain the main elements you'll find on your payslip and how you can interpret them.

Gross wage
The first thing you see on your payslip is your gross monthly wage, your wage before social security and tax deductions. This is the wage that you agreed upon with your employer and which is also reflected in your employment contract.

Social contributions to the NSSO (National Social Security Office)
The second point on your payslip are the contributions you pay for social security. These contributions amount to 13.07% for employees and are used to 1) provide payout to blue-collar and white-collar workers who do not work, and 2) for child support and health insurance.

Taxable wage
The amount that remains after the deduction of the social contributions to the NSSO is the taxable wage.

Withholding tax
Your pay slip logically continues with the withholding taxes. These are determined on the basis of a number of variables: for example, the amount of the wage, marital status and family situation. These variables have a direct influence on how much taxes you pay as an employee. So two employees with the same gross monthly salary on their payslip do not necessarily have the same net monthly salary.

Net Pay
The amount that remains on your paycheck after tax credits is your net pay.

What is a Dimona declaration?

Dimona stands for Déclaration Immédiate/Onmiddellijke Aangifte and is the electronic message that an employer uses to report when an employee starts working, leaves his job or works longer or shorter than planned. As an employer, you are obliged in both the private and the public sector to make this Dimona declaration as soon as one of these three things happens.

The Dimona declaration is also mandatory for all employees. The only exeption are volunteers, people who work with a PWA contract and occasional employees who work for provincial and local administrations. You do not have to declare Dimona for certain trainees either.

What is a cafeteria plan?

The cafeteria plan is one of the most flexible fringe benefits on the market. Because employees can choose from a wide range of options - just like in a cafeteria - they can tailor their benefits to their individual needs. Last year's De Tijd headline stated that the number of employees composing their salary via the cafeteria plan had increased by half. However, our survey shows that 84% of those surveyed have not yet implemented the cafeteria plan within their organisation. This is unfortunate because it can create a win-win situation.

On the one hand, the employee's freedom of choice is central to the cafeteria plan. They are encouraged to choose the fringe benefits that best suit their personal circumstances.

On the other hand, the introduction of a cafeteria plan concludes a modern wage policy for the employer, who can present him/herself as someone who is consciously aware of the real needs of his/her employees.

So how does the cafeteria plan work?

There are four parts to starting a cafeteria plan:

  • The creation of a budget by the employer. Here, employer and employee agree to exchange part of the traditional salary package for (a mix of) fringe benefits.
  • Determining the composition of the cafeteria plan. The employer chooses those fringe benefits that he/she wants to offer in the plan. Employees can then choose from these to optimize their pay package.
  • The distribution of that budget by the employee. The employee decides which fringe benefits he/she wants in exchange for his/her normal salary package. Note: Only those fringe benefits offered by the employer can be chosen.
  • Putting all this in legal order.
How is holiday pay calculated?

One of the rights that employees build up during their career is their holiday entitlement. Holiday pay is also part of this right. Both single holiday pay (the payment of the normal wage, including on holidays) and double holiday pay (an extra sum to pay for your holiday expenses)

For employees with a fixed salary, the single holiday pay is equal to the employee's regular net salary. The double holiday pay is calculated by multiplying the net monthly pay by 92%. Employees are in fact entitled to 4 weeks of leave, which can be reduced to 92% of a month.

A different calculation applies to employees with a variable salary. A reference period of 12 months is used for both single and double holiday pay. The single holiday pay amounts to 8% of the gross variable pay, the double holiday pay amounts to 7.67% of the gross variable pay.

For blue-collar workers, the single and double holiday pay are combined for the calculation. They receive 15.38% of their gross monthly salary at 108%.

Why are fringe benefits more interesting than a raise?

When an employee earns 2500 euro per month, both the employer and the employee pay a part for social contributions to the National Social Security Office (NSSO). The employer has to pay approximately 25% social security contributions. The employee has to pay 13.07% social security contributions. Employees also pay taxes on their gross salary.

The difference between the total wage cost and the net wage quickly increases due to social and fiscal deductions, also when a raise is given: for the employer the wage cost is too high in relation to the net wage increase, for the employee the net wage is too low in relation to the gross wage increase.

It is from this approach that fringe benefits are an attractive alternative to a traditional salary. This can give you the following advantages:

  • Full tax and social security exemption
  • A partial tax and social security exemption
  • A reduced lump sum as a basis for calculating social security contributions and taxes

The cost of luncheon vouchers, for example, goes entirely to the employee: if you work with luncheon vouchers of EUR 7, the employee has EUR 140 extra per month. If you want to give them EUR 140 gross, then you as an employer pay a lot more and the employee gets less in the end.

Is my bicycle allowance taxed?

Bicycle allowances of less than 0.24 euro per kilometre travelled are exempt from taxes and social security contributions. Is your bicycle allowance higher? Then only the part that exceeds EUR 0.24 is taxed. Company bicycles that are only used for the journey to and from work are also fully exempt from taxes.

The government consciously makes this fringe benefit fiscally attractive. Cycling employees are in fact fitter, which makes them more productive, less stressed and less sick.

How does the mobility budget differ from the mobility allowance?

Watch out: In 2020, the Constitutional Court annulled the mobility allowance regulation. It is no longer possible to offer this.

  • When you give your employees a mobility budget they can distribute that sum of money themselves over different means of transport. This way, they can get to work more easily and in a more environmentally aware way. The mobility budget is perfect for combining means of transport when commuting to work, for example parking the company car on the edge of town and then continuing by bike.
  • Until recently, you could also opt for the 'cash for car' system: the mobility allowance. Under certain conditions, employees could trade their company car for an amount of money.
What is the role of your payroll provider?

A payroll provider is an organisation that carries out administrative tasks for approximately 90% of all Belgian companies. This mainly involves payroll administration, personnel management and the filing of social documents.

You can see them as your payroll partner that takes care of your payroll from A to Z. As HR-manager you only need to send the correct payroll information to your account manager: gross pay, leave, sick days, overtime, expenses, weekly schedule, time registration, etc.

  1. The payroll provider pushes your payroll data you through the wage engine and calculates the wages of your employees.
  2. The payroll provider draws up pay slips based on these pay calculations.
  3. The payroll provider collects the contributions for the National Social Security Office (NSSO) and pays them.
  4. The payroll provider collects and pays the withholding tax.
  5. Net wages are paid, including compensation for overtime (overtime pay) and/or non-recurring wage components.
  6. Holiday pay, end-of-year bonuses, severance payments and other supplements are also handled by the payroll provider.

Finally, the payroll provider is also responsible for the creation of documents with regard to the government, such as the Dimona: the immediate electronic declaration of recruitment and termination.

Why is transparency in your wage policy important?

Sharing information with your teams about how and why certain positions are paid in that way is a good thing. The idea behind this is that transparency about the structure of your payrollpromotes fairness, equality and flexibility within the process. It gives your employees the chance to provide feedback, which in turn allows you to optimize your payroll.

What are the do's and don'ts when an employee requests a raise?

Do's

  • Listen, negotiate and come to an agreement together
  • Value employees as individuals and respond to their needs
  • Create opportunities from an open-minded salary conversation

don'ts

  • Do not make hasty, resolute decisions
  • Do not lose sight of (the performance of) the team
  • Avoid tensions and a stressful environment

What is voluntary overtime and how do you compensate it?

Employers can allow employees to work up to 120 voluntary overtime hoursto respond to peak periods. This overtime does not have to be paid in full.

With this type of overtime, employees are indeed entitled to their normal wages, plus the overtime bonus. However, they cannot recuperate them with catch-up rest or a payout of 150%. Moreover, the first 25 hours do not count towards the internal overtime limit.

Onboarding

What are best practices for remote onboarding?

As is the case with other remote processes, remote onboarding cannot imitate normal onboarding. A different approach is therefore necessary, with extra attention for the human element in the online context.

  1. Make use of digital tools
    The digital tools are there for the taking, make the best use of them. Video in particular can help you create a virtual connection, both for official meetings and for communicating the company culture.
  2. Keep it brief and light
    Provide breaks and moments to really get to know each other. Digital meetings ask more of us and therefore require a different approach. Keep it short and fun. For example, take a 15-minute walk together or have lunch together on video.
  3. Check back
    Check if your new employees understand everything, are not overwhelmed by all the information, or if they already feel somewhat at home. If not, ask where the pain points are and see what can be done just a little better. This is new for both parties, try to grow together with the challenges you are facing.
  4. Postpone it
    If you cannot guarantee that your new employees will be able to go on-the-job because projects are cancelled, they will not get a clear picture of exactly what is expected of them. It is therefore better to postpone the onboarding. But postponement is not a cancellation. Those new employees will start working for you eventually, so start involving them in the company right now.
What are the most important steps of the onboarding process?

Onboarding goes beyond extra support on the first day or week. Pre-boarding and regular follow-ups are also part of a good onboarding process.

  • Pre-boarding: Keep in touch with new employees from the moment they are hired. It's important that your new employee immediately feels like part of the team and knows where they stand.
  • Onboarding: Provide a thorough introduction to the company, the team and the role. This will help your new hire get up to speed faster.
  • Follow-up: Schedule a formal call after one month, after 3 months, after 6 months and after one year to discuss performance and progress.
How does an SME benefit from a well-planned onboarding process?
  • Your new employees integrate 79% easier when you introduce them to the company during their onboarding. They get an overview of your organisation and your product or service from all possible angles.
  • Their attitude towards their employer willbe78% more positive if you provide a first meeting with the manager during the onboarding process.
  • You increase their engagement by 78% if you involve them in everything from the first day. This gives them a sense of belonging and commitment to the company.
  • You help new employees become productive faster. In companies with structured onboarding processes, employees can start working at their full potential 51% faster.

Team management

Why is an organisational chart useful for your team management?

Since the organisational chart maps out the structure of an organisation, it also usually forms the basis for a company's HR processes. In that context, it is first and foremost a guideline for employees. Thanks to that structure, they can better assess who they should contact when there are difficulties. Getting to the right person quickly helps to solve problems quickly. Moreover, the organisational chart makes teams aware of their rights, obligations and expectations.

What is the difference between the appraisal review and the performance review?

Both have a different purpose and therefore require a different approach. Therefore, keep them well separated.

  • The purpose of an appraisal review is to assess the performance of an employee. The result of such a conversation is the basis for making decisions about, for example, salary increases.
  • The purpose of a performance review is to discuss the development and growth of an employee. There are no consequences attached to this type of conversation.
What does the OKR method entail?

OKR stands for Objectives & Key Results. Andy Grove devised this framework to link achievable objectives to measurable results.

The method wants to get the whole company moving in the same direction. In other words, it wants to help teams align. How? By accurately applying those objectives and results to all levels of the organisation. Individual goals are thus linked to team goals which, in turn, are in line with what the company is striving for.

HR analytics

What are HR analytics?

If you combine information about the 'human capital' - the human resources - with other relevant figures, and look for connections between them using statistical methods, then you are talking about HR analytics. You can look for insights into salary evolution, diversity, absenteeism and so on. Analysing these relationships will help you to improve your HR policy, so that your employees perform better, function better and stay in your company for a longer period time.

What types of absenteeism can you identify?
  • White absenteeism: the illness makes it impossible for the employee to perform his/her work.
  • Grey absenteeism: the employee is indeed sick with, for example, a headache or a cold. The decision whether or not to go to work is strongly influenced by the employee himself and his doctor.
  • Black absenteeism: this is no signs of any illness, but the employee decides not to come to work anyway. Black absenteeism is sometimes called fraudulent absenteeism.
  • Pink absenteeism: occurs when a sick employee still comes to work. This can cause colleagues to get infected too. Moreover, the employee cannot rest and therefore cannot recover.
How do you calculate and interpret the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor is calculated using the following formula: B = S² x D

B = the Bradford score

S = the number of different sickness periods for a particular employee in the past year

D = the total number of days of illness for a particular employee in the past year

Generally speaking, the higher the Bradford Factor, the more damaging it is to your organisation. Frequent short periods of absence are more difficult to cope with than long periods of absence.

But it is best to take this with a grain of salt. The assumptions implied by the score are not always correct and can be influenced by all sorts of factors. Interpret the Bradford Factor therefore carefully, critically and humanly. Investigate underlying concerns when a high score occurs and enter into a dialogue with the employee in question. Good leadership starts with well-founded and open communication.