One in five Belgian companies to cut staff next year, study finds

One in five Belgian companies to cut staff next year, study finds
Credit: Hatim Kaghat / Belga

Almost one in five Belgian companies are planning to cut staff next year as many struggle to cope with soaring energy costs and government-mandated wage indexations.

According to a new survey by Acerta, a Belgium-based human resources services group, 18% of Belgian companies are planning to reduce their staff sizes in the coming months.

"Due to rising energy costs and inflation, this is not illogical," Julie Rousseau, a Senior Legal Consultant at Acerta, told De Morgen. "We were actually expecting higher figures."

Other surveys have, in fact, found higher figures. According to a separate study conducted by the Union of Self-Employed Entrepreneurs (UNIZO), more than 35% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are planning to employ fewer people in the coming months in order to ensure the affordability of legally obligatory wage indexations.

"One in three SMEs are therefore going to hire fewer employees in order to increase the wages of the others," said UNIZO Managing Director Danny Van Assche.

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The same survey also found that, despite the unprecedented hardship currently faced by many Belgians, only 12% of Belgian SMEs intend to provide their employees with financial support over and above what is legally required from next year.

"Additional financial support on top of the compulsory wage indexation will difficult," said Van Assche.

Rousseau, in turn, has suggested that companies can potentially support their employees in more than purely financial ways: "Investing in mental health well-being, resilience, and motivation of employees are at least as important in uncertain times."

Such comments have angered many Belgian workers, the majority of whom regard wage indexations as offering a crucial lifeline in their struggle to cope with Belgium's soaring inflation rate.

"The best thing employers can do is to stop the systematic attacks on wage indexations," said David Van Bellinghen, Spokesperson for the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions.

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