The recovery hours are back

Author: Laurence Philippe - Anne Ghysels - Isabelle Caluwaerts (Legal Experts)
Read time: 3min
Publication date: 20/07/2023 - 09:46
Latest update: 20/07/2023 - 13:43

Following the 2023-2024 interprofessional agreement, recovery hours were reintroduced. From July 2023 to June 2025, it will again be possible to work 120 additional voluntary overtime hours, also known as ‘recovery hours’. In principle, these hours are exempt from a social and tax point of view.

A look back

The coronacrisis led to an increase in the workload in the crucial sectors. To deal with this, the government allowed employers in these sectors to have 120 additional voluntary overtime hours performed. These overtime hours were added to the basic voluntary overtime hours quota. 

Then, to encourage economic recovery, the social partners agreed to extend this voluntary overtime hours to all sectors. From July 2021 to the end of 2022, it was possible to work 120 recovery hours per year.

Recovery hours 2023-2025

On 15 March 2023, the social partners concluded the intersectoral agreement for the period 2023-2024. They provided for the reintroduction of recovery hours starting 1 July 2023.

Employers can therefore have 120 recovery hours performed during each of the following periods:

  • From 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2023;
  • From 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024;
  • From 1 January 2025 to 30 June 2025.

These hours are in addition to the basic quota of 100 voluntary overtime hours. It is not necessary to use up the basic quota first before recovery hours may be performed.

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. 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, all 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 will, in principle, be excluded from the concept of pay and will therefore not be subject to social security contributions. They will not have to be declared in the DMFA (quarterly declaration).

From a tax point of view, this remuneration will, in principle, be exempt from income tax and withholding tax.

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

I want to benefit from the measure

Do you have extra work to get done and motivated employees? Then have them sign an agreement and they are immediately deployable for recovery hours. Interested? Please contact Legal Partners


Source: Draft law implementing the agreement framework in the context of interprofessional negotiations for the period 2023-2024, Chamber doc. no. 3446/001; Intermediate guidelines NSSO of 19 June 2023, .

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