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Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.6 Labour laws

Labour laws are the responsibility of the Federal Government and are carried out by the Employment Minister (Federal Employment, Labour and Social Negotiations Government Service). Exemptions for the cultural sector are provided in legislation relating to night work and the protection of Sunday as a rest day.

The social partners, represented by unions and employer federations, are deeply involved in the realisation of regulation in the labour sector.

The joint committees(JC) include an equal amount of employer and employee organisation representatives, under the direction of an independent chairperson. JCs have been set up for all branches of industry with the aim of grouping companies with similar activities and to develop instructions adapted to labour conditions. The JC assignments consist mainly of concluding collective labour agreements, preventing or solving social disputes and advising on policy.

In principle an employer does not freely choose which JC deals with its activities. This is determined on the basis of an employer's activity and the responsibility of each JC. The following JCs are important for the cultural sector:

  • JC227 (audiovisual arts and media sectors);
  • JC303 (film: production, distribution, movie theatres);
  • JC304 (music and performing arts, life entertainment); and
  • JC329 (non-profit cultural sector).

The collective labour agreements that are concluded in the JCs can be accessed at

A collective labour agreement(CLA) is an agreement that determines individual and collective relations between employers and employees in companies or branches. When an employer is bound by a CLA, the resulting rights and obligations apply to all employees, regardless of whether they are members of the union(s) in question. The sectoral CLAs are mainly concluded in joint committees or sub-committees. They determine the jobs and corresponding wages for a sector and can include arrangements regarding flexibility.

These agreements can be declared generally binding by the King of Belgium and an employer or employee cannot divert individually from this type of CLA. A major example is the Music CLA concluded in JC304, which is generally declared binding so it applies to everyone who employs a musician in Belgium. As of 1/7/2017 a new Music and Performing Arts CLA provides arrangements for labour conditions in Flanders and Dutch speaking employers in Brussels.

See also comparative information provided in the Compendium "Themes!" section under "Status of Artists".

Chapter published: 16-01-2018

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