Earning extra money: Over a third of employers turned to 'flexi-jobs' this summer

Earning extra money: Over a third of employers turned to 'flexi-jobs' this summer
Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

The rising cost of living has spurred more and more people to search for a side gig. This summer, one in three employers allowed to use so-called 'flexi-jobbers' did so, highlighting the rising demand.

In Belgium, the number of employees in so-called 'flexi-jobs' has been rapidly growing since policies around the statute have been simplified, and the system has been expanded, receiving a further boost as life became more expensive.

The scheme allows people who already have a job or are retired to work unlimited hours on the side without being taxed, meaning the gross pay is the net pay.

More and more employers are also turning to flexi-jobs, a trend that continued throughout the summer, an analysis by HR services group Liantis showed. As many as 36.4% of employers allowed to use flexi-jobbers did so in July. In the hospitality sector, which has been allowed to use the tax-favourable system for the longest time, the figure was as high as 58.3%.

Those who employed flexi-jobbers employed an average of 3.8 people in this way. The scheme is also advantageous for them: while flexi-jobbers earn on average €13 per hour – the minimum wage is set at €11.81 – they only have to pay a 25% contribution to the wages.

Who is working where?

Previously, most of the 'flexi-workers' were employed in hotels, restaurants and cafés, but this year, the sports and performing arts sector, cinemas and healthcare (for administrative positions) can also participate.

However, despite the chronic employee shortages here, the system is getting off to a somewhat slower start, as just 3.5% of employers in the care sector hired flexi-jobbers last month. More people were hired in this way in the retail sector, where the scheme was rolled out in 2018.

Despite its name centring around flexibility, the scheme comes with strict conditions. For example, the person in question must have worked at least 80% for one or more employers in the third quarter of the year before starting the flexi-job, or they must be retired.

The statute is particularly popular among people in their 20s and 60s: over a fifth (21.7%) are between the ages of 25 and 30, while another 10.6% are between 64 and 68 years old.

The scheme is not yet popular in the healthcare sector. Credit: Belga / Paul-Henri Verlooy

"The younger generation often does not yet have a family of their own, and faces high costs when house hunting, for instance. For pensioners, the children have already left home. For the latter category, in addition to earning on the sometimes limited pension, wanting to be useful also plays a role," said Matthias Debruyckere of Liantis.

He explained that the popularity of the system lies partly in the rising cost of living. "People are looking for a way to earn a little extra without too much administration and hassle." On the other hand, he says, many employers are struggling with staff shortages. "That staff shortage is sometimes structural, but sometimes it can also be explained by absenteeism or because employees are enjoying holidays."

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