Well-being of workers

The employer who employs posted workers in Belgium is obliged to ensure the well-being of these workers during the performance of their work in Belgium. Every employer (foreign or not) is obliged to comply with the Act of 4 August 1996 on well-being of workers in the performance of their work and the Code on Well-being at Work as soon as he employs workers in Belgium, regardless of the place of his establishment (or the fact that he does not have a permanent establishment in Belgium), the nationality of the worker or the duration of his employment in Belgium. This applies to all punishable obligations under the Well-being Act, i.e. the obligations that apply in the workplace (e.g.: collective and individual protective equipment, signposting, hygiene, etc.), the organisational obligations (internal and, where applicable, external service) and the obligations concerning workers’ health surveillance.

When workers are posted in Belgium, the employer is obliged to respect all the working and employment conditions for the work carried out there, which are determined by legal prescriptions that are punishable by law (art. 5 §1 of the Act of 5 March 2002). Since the Act on Well-being of 4 August 1996 and its implementing decrees provide for working and employment conditions in the field of workers' health and safety and the employer's obligations are sanctioned, the employer who posts workers in Belgium within the meaning of the Act of 5 March 2002 is obliged to comply with the employer's obligations imposed by the legislation on well-being.

He must take the necessary measures to promote their well-being in order to prevent accidents at work and occupational diseases. He must ensure that his occupational risk prevention policy applies to these workers.

The workers concerned are:

  1. the persons who perform work in terms of an employment contract;
  2. the persons who perform work under the authority of another person, other than in terms of an employment contract;
  3. the persons who follow a vocational training curriculum that provides a form of work which may or may not be performed within the educational institution;
  4. the persons bound by an apprenticeship contract;
  5. the trainees;
  6. the pupils and students who follow an educational curriculum that provides for a form of work that is performed in an educational institution.

The domains of well-being are:

  • Work safety;
  • Protecting workers’ health at work;
  • Psychosocial aspects of work;
  • Ergonomics;
  • Work hygiene;
  • Embellishing the workplaces;
  • The enterprise’s measures regarding the natural environment (relating to their influence on the other points).

The employer's policy on the prevention of occupational risks is part of an integrated and planned approach in a dynamic risk management system which comprises four stages: the development of the policy during which the objectives and necessary means are determined; its programming, which aims to establish the methods to be applied, the tasks, obligations and means of the persons concerned; its implementation and its evaluation.

In order to be able to determine the objectives of his policy, the employer must be aware of the risks faced by his workers and, more particularly, the risks faced by his workers posted in Belgium. To do this, the employer must analyse the risks.

The risk analysis is carried out on three levels: the organisation as a whole, each group of workstations or functions, and the individual himself. The workstation of the posted worker must therefore be subject to a risk analysis.

On the basis of this analysis, the preventive measures are determined which are taken at the level of the organisation as a whole, at the level of a group of workstations or functions or at the level of the individual in order to prevent risks, avoid damage or limit them.

This matter is regulated by the Act of 4 August 1996 on the well-being of workers in the performance of their work, which is implemented by the Code on well-being at work. This criminal legislation is applicable to any employer who employs workers on Belgian territory. It is the transposition into Belgian law of the Council Framework Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work and of specific directives relating to certain risks.

In practice, the concrete assessment of the implementation of the legislation on well-being for posted workers falls within the competence of the inspectorate of Supervision of Well-being at Work, which will take into account the specific circumstances in which the employment takes place.

More information

More information on this website under the theme The well-being of workers: