Group or joint liability Minimum wage Wage manipulation, non-payment or withholding of wages
Under Article 35.2, outsourcers, contractors and subcontractors of tasks or activities engaging one or more contractors or subcontractors who, in accordance with Article 49/1 of the Social Penal Code have been informed in writing by labour inspectors of the serious failure of their contractors or subcontractors to meet their obligation to pay their workers on time, are jointly and severally liable for the payment of compensation to workers.
The principals who, for some specific activities, use subcontractors, and who are informed by the social inspection that these subcontractors are not paying wages owed to the workers, are under some conditions (max. 1 year after receiving the information by the inspection) jointly liable for paying the wage to the workers. This system of joint and several liability for the payment of workers’ wages is particularly relevant to the exploitation of workers in cases where victims are severely underpaid, or their wages are withheld or manipulated, by subcontractors. This creates a chain of successive responsibility, linking subcontractors and contractors within a production chain, all the way up to the main contractor or principal placing the order. Therefore, in cases where a notice has been given under Art 49/1, the main contractor may be jointly and severally liable for the payment of wages owed to workers by their subcontractors.
Law / 12 April 1965 / Belgium / Act of 12 April 1965 Concerning the Protection of the Wages of Workers
The Act of 12 April 1965 concerning the protection of workers’ wages contains rules that are intended to protect the wages paid by the employer to the employee. These rules cover when the wage should be paid, how it should be paid (in cash or in kind), what may/must be withheld from the wage, a system of joint liability for paying wages, as well as general and specific rules that apply to the employment of foreign workers who are staying illegally in Belgium.