The end of the recovery hours

Author: Laurence Philippe (Legal Expert)
Read time: 4min
Publication date: 12/12/2022 - 14:52
Latest update: 12/12/2022 - 14:53

While one crisis follows another, some of the measures taken to address the Covid pandemic are coming to an end. This is the case for example with the recovery hours which can still be used until December 31 of this year.

Recovery hours

As a reminder, recovery hours are voluntary overtime hours that are subject to advantageous social and tax treatment. These 120 hours are in addition to the 100 “traditional” voluntary overtime hours that can already be worked under normal conditions.

Unlike these, recovery hours do not count towards the internal limit.

An employee who works recovery hours receives his regular pay for those hours but is not entitled to overtime pay. However, there are no social security contributions or withholding tax applicable. In short, the employee's gross pay is equal to his net pay.

What about 2023?

From 2023, it will no longer be possible to work recovery hours. Can your employees work overtime hours by increasing the number of hours worked in a year?

Voluntary overtime hours - all sectors

“Traditional” voluntary overtime hours still apply. The main advantage of these hours is that the employer does not have to give reasons for using them, nor does he have to inform the social inspection.

However, there are some formalities that must be fulfilled. The employee must give written consent prior to the performance of these hours. This agreement will be valid for 6 months, but is renewable.

These hours are subject to overtime pay (50% or 100% on Sundays and holidays) but do not have to be compensated by time off. Over the year, the employee will therefore work a higher total number of hours.

The number of voluntary overtime hours that can be worked per year will depend on the employer's sector. In a large number of sectors, the intersectoral CLA no. 129 sets the quota at 120 hours. Some sectors have set a higher quota.

“Net” overtime hours - Horeca

The Horeca sector makes use of net voluntary overtime hours for several years now. In this sector, it will still be possible in 2023 to work 360 hours of voluntary overtime with advantageous social and tax treatment. However, there is one condition: the cash register must be used at all locations.

Otherwise, 300 overtime hours may still be worked in order to cope with an extraordinary increase in workload or to perform work required by an unforeseen necessity. These hours are subject to formalities such as obtaining the prior agreement of the trade union delegation (if any) and the authorization or notification of the social inspection.

Other overtime hours

There are other options for letting employees work overtime hours. In case of unforeseen necessity or extraordinary increase in work, the formalities described above must be observed, but the advantage of this type of overtime hours is that the employee can waive his compensatory rest. This way, he can work more hours over the year. The number of hours for which the employee can waive his compensatory rest will depend on the employer's joint committee.

Source: Law of 12 December 2021 implementing the social agreement in the context of inter-professional negotiations for the period 2021-2022, Belgian Official Gazette of 31.12.2021.

Law of 16 November 2015 on various provisions on social matters, Belgian Official Gazette of 26.11.2015, amended by the law of 3 August 2016, Belgian Official Gazette of 16.08.2016 and by the law of 15 January 2018, Belgian Official Gazette of 05.02.2018.

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