Coronavirus – NSSO: occasional work in the agricultural and horticultural sector in 2021

Author: Anne Ghysels (Legal Expert)

Special rules apply to occasional workers in the agricultural and horticultural sector for calculating their NSSO contributions. These are not calculated on the basis of their real gross salary, but on the basis of a daily flat-rate amount.

The occasional workers in these different sectors are entitled to a maximum number of days per calendar year that open the right to this advantageous system of social security contributions.

Amendments to this legislation are made for the year 2021. These amendments relate to the extension of occasional work to fruit cultivation, the quotas that must be observed in order to benefit from this advantageous system of social security contributions and the introduction of the concept "same company".

Fruit cultivation

In the year 2021, non-manual workers in the fruit cultivation sector also have the right to work more than 65 days as occasional workers, as is already the case for chicory and mushroom cultivation.


Due to the epidemic, the number of days for which employers in agriculture and horticulture can make use of the advantageous system of occasional work was doubled for the year 2020.

New rules have been introduced for the year 2021.

Basic quota

  • The maximum number of days per calendar year in the horticulture sector is increased from 65 to 100 (compared to 130 in 2020)
  • The maximum number of days per calendar year in the agriculture sector is increased from 30 to 60 (as was already the case in 2020)
  • The maximum number of days per calendar year for fruit cultivation is set at 100, with the exception of workers who fall under the JC for temporary agency work, with regard to the last 35 days of these 100 days.

Extra days

Occasional workers who work in chicory and mushroom cultivation and, from 2021, in fruit cultivation, are entitled to a quota of extra days while retaining their status of occasional worker.

  • For workers in the sector of chicory and mushroom cultivation, the additional 35 days were increased to 70 in 2020, but this is no longer the case in 2021. These workers can therefore work 35 extra days. 
  • The workers in the sector of fruit cultivation can work 35 extra days (with the exception of temporary agency workers) on top of the basic quota of 65 days. In any case they can work 100 days in the year 2021.   

These extra 35 days per worker in the sector of fruit cultivation can only apply to 33% of the number of occasional workers you have declared for the year 2020 and under certain conditions: 

  • You demonstrate for the year 2021 an employment volume, in FTE, that is at least equal to the average of the 4 Dmfa declarations to the NSSO for the calendar year 2019;
  • You must make a written application to the chairman of JC 145 and to the Social Fund of this JC by 15 April 2021. This application shall contain a statement in which you undertake to:
    • apply the social legislation and collective bargaining agreements correctly;
    • not to make use secondment constructions and not to make use of ‘false’ self-employed workers;
    • not to engage in social dumping;
    • not to use constructions of contracting or service contracts with Belgian or foreign companies in order to circumvent the Belgian law on prohibited postings.

The models of this application and declaration will be made available to you by the Social Fund of the JC 145.

A working group "Fruit cultivation" will assess your application before 10 May 2021 and will give its opinion to the JC.

The JC will inform you of its decision by 31 May 2021, including the number of occasional workers employed in fruit cultivation that you can employ for the extended system to 100 days for the year 2021.

Combination of quotas

A quota must also be observed if the occasional worker carries out several activities with different employers. This quota was different for chicory cultivation. However, this is not the case for 2021. The quota is 100 days (compared to 200 in 2020), regardless of whether it is for the cultivation of mushrooms, chicory or fruit.

180 days in the same company

A worker who has worked in the horticultural or agricultural sector in a capacity other than occasional worker during the preceding 180 days, shall not be considered an occasional worker.

For the year 2021, the legislation will be more lenient as the 180 days will have to be checked in order to verify that he was working in the same company and not in the horticultural or agricultural sector.

'The same company' is understood to mean all legal entities that are managed by the same administrators and/or managers or that belong to the same technical business unit.

For the calculation of the 180 days, no account is taken of employment within the company during this period if it took place in the context of a contract for a fixed-term or for clearly defined work of maximum 6 consecutive calendar weeks.

The 180-day rule does not apply if a worker's employment contract is terminated at the statutory retirement age and the worker subsequently wishes to be employed as an occasional worker in the same company.

The other rules remain unchanged.

Entry into force

These provisions take effect from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.


Sources: Act of December 2020 on temporary support measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belgian Official Gazette of 30.12.2020;  Royal Decree of 28 December 2020 amending various provisions on social security and voluntary work in the context of combating the socio-economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic, Belgian Official Gazette of 31.12.2020.




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