PDOK/OPOC: changed operation, affiliation and collection of contributions for foreign construction workers
Foreign employers working in Belgium must comply with the Belgian mandatory labour law provisions for their employees. For foreign companies, whose activity falls within the authority of the Joint Committee for the construction sector (JC 124), one of these compulsory provisions is the payment of loyalty stamps (= end-of-year bonus). However, this benefit is not paid directly by the employer, but is granted to the workers by the sectoral Welfare Fund. In order to finance the Fund and the benefits granted, the foreign employer must affiliate with the Welfare Fund (“PDOK/OPOC”).
What exactly does this obligation entail?
Foreign companies posting staff to Belgium to carry out construction work must grant their employees the same sectoral benefits that Belgian employees are entitled to. By joining the PDOK/OPOC, contributions are paid to the sectoral Welfare Fund and the foreign employer finances an end-of-year bonus for its workers. On a quarterly basis, the contribution to the PDOK/OPOC amounts to 9.12% of Belgian gross wages.
How does the affiliation take place?
In the past, the affiliation was done by filling out and sending a form that was made available on the website www.limosa.be. Since recently, the affiliation is done automatically through the Limosa declaration when it is indicated that activities will be performed in the construction sector (JC 124).
If the employer already pays an end-of-year bonus in the home country, it may be viewed as an equivalent benefit. In principle, no contributions to the PDOK/OPOC have to be paid in Belgium. In practice, in case of an equivalent benefit in the home country, the following steps will have to be followed:
- Indicate that an equivalent benefit is being paid when making a Limosa declaration;
- Receipt of a letter from the PDOK/OPOC requesting the submission of the necessary supporting documents;
- Submit supporting documents (for example: CLA regulation, work regulations, employment agreement annexes, …) and proof of payment of the equivalent benefit;
- After a positive decision, the employer is exempt from paying contributions in Belgium. Note: the supporting documents can always be requested by the Belgian inspection services. In order to apply the exemption, the local benefit must be granted and the equivalent local regulations must be complied with.
Companies that do not have an exemption are obligated to pay quarterly PDOK/OPOC contributions of 9.12% of the Belgian gross wages. These employers receive a PDOK/OPOC declaration form every quarter. If Van Havermaet acts as a mandatary, this form was always sent to us. Due to administrative changes at the PDOK/OPOC, the declaration forms may be sent directly to the company again in the future. This is due to an automation that, for the time being, only takes the employer’s address into account and no longer the address stated previously.
What has changed?
- The PDOK system has become more automated and now extracts the information for the PDOK/OPOC declarations from the made Limosa notifications;
- Separate PDOK/OPOC declarations are no longer allowed and only possible on the forms that the PDOK/OPOC sends directly. An employee cannot be added manually, since a link with a Limosa declaration is always required;
- The PDOK/OPOC affiliation number has changed. The new structure of the affiliation number is ‘P-‘ + ‘foreign VAT number’;
- The identification of companies is no longer done via the affiliation number, but via a foreign VAT number.
Please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts if you have any questions about this.