language legislation (Payroll Belgium)

Best use of language legislation in Belgium

Belgium has 3 regions

Belgium is a federal state, divided into three semi-autonomous regions. In Belgium’s political landscape, the Regions have gained over the past few years and especially since the last big State reform in 2016, more and important competencies which also have an impact on a number of employment law/social law-related areas. The employment relationship is mainly governed by federal and regional legislation, binding collective labour agreements on the level of the sector of industry, working regulations on company level and individual employment contracts.


Belgium has 3 official languages

French which is spoken in the Walloon region (South) and Brussels (Center)

Dutch which is spoken in the Flemish region (North) and Brussels (Center)

German which is spoken in the German-speaking region (East)


Language legislation in Belgium

The result of having regions which use their own language is that Belgium has a strict legislation on the use of languages in an employment relationship. That legislation states that the communication (written and verbally) between employer and employee should be done in the language of the place where the employer has its place of business. A place of business in the scope of this legislation refers to the place where the employee receives her/his instructions from the employer, where (s)he meets the employer or her/his supervisor etc. It is not to be confused with the place where the employer has its registered office as this can be quite different from the place of business!

Depending on the geographical location of the place of business of the employer, the following languages apply:

  • Brussels region: French for the French-speaking members of staff and Dutch for the Dutch-speaking speaking members of staff.
  • Flemish region: Dutch (regardless of the native language of the employee involved)
  • Walloon region: French (regardless of the native language of the employee involved)
  • German-speaking region: German (regardless of the native language of the employee involved)


What are the onsequences?

The consequences of not respecting the language legislation differ depending on the region and are the most far stretching in the Flemish and French region as in those regions, a document which was not drafted in the correct language is null and void.


In practice

In order to be compliant with Belgian language legislation, you can always rely upon the experts of Pro-Pay, who have 50 years of experience. Don’t hesitate to contact them by use of the contact sheet.

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