Employment agreements based on the duration of the agreement
In Belgium, you have 4 types of employment agreements based on the length or duration of the agreement.
- Employment agreement of undetermined period (open-ended)
- Employment agreement for a determined period
- Employment agreement for a well-defined job
- Employment agreement to replace an absent employee
Employment agreement of undetermined period (open-ended)
This most the commonly used type of employment agreement. This type doesn’t have duration of the agreement and does not include a specific end date. It can be ended by one of the parties being the employer or employee giving notice to the other party. This specific type of agreement does not require a formal written contract, although it is most advisable to have one.
Belgian labour law specifically states that if there is no formal written agreement between employer and employee, the agreement will automatically be considered to be an employment agreement for an undetermined period of time.
Employment agreement for a determined period
This type of agreement specifies a date on which parties, employer and employee, are released from their obligations without having to respect a notice period or pay any compensation in lieu thereof to the other party. The contract should be drafted in writing and duly signed at the latest on the starting date of employment. Failing to comply with this formality will result in the agreement being considered as concluded for an undetermined period of time.
When parties (employer and employee) conclude consecutive employment agreements for a determined period, without interruption attributable to the employee, they are automatically considered having an agreement for an undetermined period of time.
There are 2 major exceptions to this rule:
Consecutive agreements for a total duration of maximum 2 years
Employer and employee can conclude 4 consecutive agreements of determined duration, given that the duration of each of these agreements amounts to minimum 3 months and to an overall maximum period of 2 years.
Consecutive agreements with a duration of maximum 3 years
Via a preliminary agreement of the Ministry of social affairs, consecutive agreements can be made given that the minimal duration of each agreement is not less than 6 months and the totality of all agreements is not more than 3 years.
Employment agreement for a well-defined job
This specific type of employment agreement does not stipulate a formal end date or duration. It refers to a well and clearly defined job or task. The contract requires a formal written agreement to be duly signed at the latest on the first date of employment. It will automatically end when the work or job is done without either party having to give notice to the other party or having to pay an indemnity in lieu thereof.
Employment agreement to replace an absent employee
If one of the permanent staff members of the company is absent, it is possible under certain conditions to conclude an employment contract for a temporary replacement of this employee. The advantage of this type of contract is the fact that there are deviating rules when it comes to the termination of the contract which are less strict from an employer’s perspective. Kindly be informed that it will depend on the nature of the absence of the employee whether such a replacement contract is possible and that the replacement contract itself needs to contain certain mandatory provisions.
If you are interested to know more about how to draft a tailor made employment agreement based on the duration of the agreement for an employee in Belgium, I suggest to read my post about “Success key 1: Employment Contract” or to contact the legal advisors at Pro-Pay with the contact sheet.