New developments regarding return-to-work bonuses and target group reductions for initial recruitment


On 5 October 2023, the Belgian Parliament approved a legislative proposal intended to make various amendments to the provisions of the Law on compulsory insurance for medical care and benefits, coordinated on 14 July 1994, and to the legislation on the target group reduction for initial recruitment. We would like to elaborate on two of these changes below

1. Return-to-work bonus and the processing of personal data

A few months ago, the Programme Act of 26 December 2022 introduced Article 110/1 into the aforementioned Law on health insurance. This new provision, which came into force on 1 April 2023, allows companies that hire an incapacitated employee for a return to work authorised by the health insurance provider's physician, and who will employ them for at least 3 months, to apply for a return-to-work bonus of €1,000 paid by the health insurance provider.

As part of the bonus application, certain employer and employee personal data will have to be sent to the insurance provider. The recently adopted legislative proposal therefore aims to supplement Article 110/1 in this respect, by specifying the categories of personal data to be communicated at the time of the application, the purpose for which the data will be processed, how long the data will be kept, and who will be responsible for processing the data, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The legislative proposal provides for the retroactive entry into force of these provisions from 1 April 2023, to coincide with the entry into force of the aforementioned Programme Act of 26 December 2022.

2. Amendments to the target group reduction for initial recruitment

The recently adopted draft law also introduces changes to the reductions in the social security contributions that employers can claim from the Belgian National Office for Social Security (RSZ/ONSS) for hiring their first employees.

From 1January 2024, the target group reduction granted to employers hiring their first employee will be reduced from €4,000 to €3,100 per quarter.

At the same time, the target group reduction for initial recruitment will now be limited to three employees instead of six. The target group reductions associated with the hiring of a fourth, fifth, and/or sixth employee will be abolished in the future. However, a transitional provision will ensure that the pre-existing reductions (i.e. those effective no later than 31 December 2023) for the fourth, fifth, and/or sixth employee until they expire.

It is therefore in the interest of "prospective new employers" to hire new employees before 1 January 2024. A word to the wise…

As always, Reliance Littler is here to assist you!