Labour policies reside with the Federal State. Social partners (unions and employer associations) are intensely involved in the process of installing regulations on labour. They meet in joint committees (“paritaire comités” or PC) with the aim of gathering organisations that work in a particular area of activities and developing and implementing labour agreements on those activities. To which PC an employer belongs, is determined on the basis of their activities. There is an extensive list of PCs, and the following pertain to large parts of the cultural sector:
- PC 227: audiovisual arts and media sectors
- PC 303: film: production, distribution, movie theatres
- PC 304: music and performing arts, live entertainment
- PC 329: non-profit cultural sector
These PCs make collective labour agreements (“collectieve arbeidsovereenkomsten” or CAO), which determine individual and collective relations (including wages, work flexibility, or establishing a fund for subsistence security, see 7.2.2) between employers and employees in companies and in respective branches. When an employer is bound by a CAO, the resulting rights and obligations apply to all employees. CAOs can be declared binding to the entire range of activities in a certain area. The CAO on music (which is arranged in PC 304), for example, applies to everyone employing a musician in Belgium.
Furthermore, we should mention that the culture sector is subject to exceptions to standard labour legislation, for example with regard to night work or the official status of Sundays as rest days.
Volunteering in non-profit cultural organisations is possible and bound to specific rules. Volunteers cannot receive a wage for their activities, but can get their expenses (limited to a certain amount per day) reimbursed. In 2018, a regulation for ‘side jobs’ (“bijklussen”) came into effect. This regulation allowed people to do paid services (until a certain limited amount of wage) for cultural and recreational organisations as a side job. The person providing the services should either be employed (at least 4/5), self-employed, or retired and these services should fall under a specified list of ‘non-professional’ activities. This regulation was abolished by the Constitutional Court in 2020, however, which means it will no longer be in effect as of 2021.