The number of students doing undeclared work in Belgium increased in 2018, according to a study by the Randstad human resources firm. No fewer than 17% of the roughly 1,000 students polled by the firm said they worked without contracts, as against 13% a year ago.
The increase is quite remarkable since the regulations on student jobs have been eased on many occasions in recent years, and currently allow students to work 475 hours per year.
“Just as it was reported recently that measures taken against illegal work, such as certified cash registers or flexi jobs, scarcely curbed undeclared work, the flexible legislation for students also do not seem to constitute a miracle solution in the fight against illegal work by students,” Randstad noted.
The increase in the hours students are allowed to work came in response to requests from both employers and students, according to Randstad. “Many of the study’s findings indicate, however, that making the legislation more flexible for students has reached its limits,” added the human resources firm.
The responses from the students polled underline the potentially negative impact paid employment can have on studies: 17% of respondents said they worked at times when they should be in class, and half indicated that their employers had already tried to convince them to do so.
“The findings from our study seem to indicate that the limits of this flexible legislation are gradually being reached and that a new extension could well have a negative impact on study performances,” Elin De Vits of Randstad explained.
According to the study, the sectors with the highest numbers of student workers were retailing (21%), hotels-restaurants-cafés (17%) and the non-market public sector (14%).