Coronavirus: extension of voluntary overtime hours

Author: Laurence Philippe (Legal Expert)

The coronavirus crisis has led to an increase in work in some sectors and an increase in the number of employees who are ill or in quarantine. In order to cope with this, in the crucial sectors, it is possible to perform gross-nett voluntary overtime hours, just as in the hospitality sector. From now on, those overtime hours can be worked until 30 June 2021. A draft law provides for their extension until 30 September 2021.

Sectors concerned

The system of voluntary overtime hours that we describe here applies to the crucial sectors. Crucial sectors are understood to mean the “companies that employ personnel and that are necessary for the protection of the vital interests of the Nation and the needs of the population as referred to in the framework of the urgent measures taken by the Minister of the Interior to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, as well as the producers, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors of goods, works and services that are essential for the activity of these companies.”

The list of these sectors is annexed to the Ministerial Decree of 28 October 2020.

Voluntary overtime hours

Voluntary overtime hours are worked at the request of the employer and with the agreement of the employee. Contrary to other causes which make it possible to perform overtime hours, such as unforeseen necessity, the employer does not have to justify the performance of these hours. The agreement of the employee is sufficient.

In order to be able to work voluntary overtime hours, the employee must give his agreement in writing prior to such overtime. This agreement is valid for 6 months and can be renewed. The employee is not allowed to work more than 11 hours per day and 50 hours per week.

Hour limit

In the crucial sectors, the limit for voluntary overtime hours is increased to 220 hours for the period from 1 January to 30 September 2021. This means that above the limit of voluntary overtime hours per calendar year, 120 additional voluntary overtime hours can be worked in the second quarter.

The 100 – classic – voluntary overtime hours must not be used up before the 120 gross-net hours without overtime pay are used. However, as a reminder, the average weekly working time may in no case exceed 48 hours over a period of 4 months (European limit).

Compensation of overtime and overtime pay

Like normal voluntary overtime hours, these 120 hours do not have to be compensated. Contrary to the ordinary system, they are not subject to overtime pay.

Normally, the first 25 voluntary overtime hours are not taken into account for the internal limit. Here, the 120 voluntary overtime hours are not taken into consideration for the calculation of the internal limit. 

Gross-net overtime hours

The social security and tax status of the 120 voluntary overtime hours has yet to be confirmed. The following social security and tax status will apply, subject to this confirmation.

From a social security point of view, the remuneration of these 120 overtime hours would be excluded from the concept of pay and would therefore not be subject to social security contributions.

From a tax point of view, this remuneration would be exempt from income tax.

As in the hospitality sector, the gross remuneration for these hours would therefore be equal to the net remuneration received by the employee.



Draft law of 21 June 2021 on temporary support measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Act of 20 December 2020 on temporary support measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belgian Official Gazette of 30 December 2020.


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