1. Minimum Requirements
In principle, an employment contract may be written or verbal. Yet, the following employment contracts and/or clauses (without limitation) must be in writing: (1) training clause; (2) non-competition clause; (3) employment contracts entered into for a fixed term or for a specific project; (4) part-time contracts; (5) temporary work or interim work; (6) working from home; (7) arbitral clauses for high-paid employees with high management responsibilities, and (8) in certain cases, employment contracts entered into with a foreign worker.
Characteristic for Belgium is that, when in written form, an employment contract must be drafted in French, Dutch or German, depending on the location of the employer’s operating unit. If the operating unit where the employee works is located in the Flemish region, the employment contract must be drafted in Dutch. If this operating unit is in the Walloon region, the employment contract must be drafted in French and if the location is in the German-speaking region, the contract must be in German. For the Brussels region, the employment contract must be either in French or Dutch depending on the language used by the employee.
Yet, in the particular context of a cross-border employment contract, the European Court of Justice recently rendered a landmark decision stipulating that the principle of freedom of movement for employees requires the parties to be able to draft their contract not only in the official language of the state of the workplace. Consequently, the Flemish Decree on the use of languages in social relations has, to a certain extent, been amended accordingly.
2. Fixed/Unlimited Time Contracts
The standard type of employment contract used in Belgium is the open-ended employment contract. With the exception of the clauses referred to above, a written contract is not required.
Fixed term contracts are permitted, but a written contract must be produced by the commencement of the employment at the latest. Failing this, contracts for a fixed term are deemed to be open-ended contracts.
3. Trial Period
Trial periods have been suppressed by the Unified Employment Status Act (except in relation to students, temporary workers and temporary agency workers).