Sooner or later, every organisation will have them at their door: "the social inspection". In Belgium between the 1st of January 2022 and the 30th of September 2022, there were as many as 10,706 inspections carried out in companies in different sectors. However, such a visit is like an exam: those who are well prepared, have nothing to fear.
What exactly does such an inspection entail, and what if irregularities are established? We are giving you a few tips already, so you can face the inspector’s visit with confidence.
The social inspection can be announced or a surprise visit, on its own initiative or after a complaint (from a (former) staff member, for example). The inspector will check all kinds of documents related to your employees, like employment contracts, declarations and payments of wages and benefits, labour regulations and company policies. There are different inspections, each of which vets different things. The most common inspections are:
Supervision of Social Laws (Toezicht Sociale Wetten - TSW): they protect the individual and collective rights of workers. Are all mandatory entries included in the work regulations? Are the annual leave rules being respected? Does a part-time employee really work part-time, and in accordance with the agreed schedule? How is commuting calculated and paid for? Is the minimum working hours respected?
NSSO inspection: the NSSO inspection checks whether the employer has paid the social security contributions correctly. Are expense reimbursements really expense reimbursements, or rather hidden wages on which employers still have to pay an NSSO contribution? Is the car only used for work, and is social security paid for it or not? Are self-employed employees truly self-employed, or is it a case of false self-employment?
Welfare inspection (Toezicht Welzijn op het Werk or TWW): this inspection supervises welfare at work. Are safety devices such as personal protective equipment available? Are the instructions for handling machinery available and known by the employees? They also come on site with a serious industrial accident.
What if the inspection finds violations of labour regulations?
If after the inspection it appears that there are irregularities in your company, you will of course have to correct these - often retroactively and with the necessary interest (e.g. wages that were not paid correctly). In addition, penalties may be imposed. In that case, the inspector will draw up an official report, which will be followed up by criminal or administrative law. The resulting fines can be very high, and are calculated per employee involved. A 'warning' can also be given first, after which there is usually another check.
Practical tips & tricks
Prior to inspection
Have an audit conducted now by an external expert. They proactively check whether your company's social administration is legally correct and up to date, give you objective advice, and rectify any problems.
Ensure that mandatory documents such as employment contracts and regulations and payroll documents are in place. It is important to ensure all documents are legally watertight and correspond with the facts.
In case of an inspection
Prepare properly for an announced inspection with an external expert and prepare your employees for a possible interview with the inspector too. Share some questions with them beforehand that the inspector might ask. That will reassure them.
Answer all the inspector's questions to-the-point, and do not provide unnecessary information. Don't elaborate unnecessarily, and stay focused. Only sign a report if it is a correct rendition of the facts. If you don't have all the information immediately, be honest. It is usually no problem to provide the information after the visit.
Flash inspections in 2023: an overview
February: transport sector;
April: construction sector (incl. electrical engineering and metal);
August: cleaning sector;
October: green sectors;
December: meat sector.
Flash inspections in 2024: an overview
January: large metropolitan areas (incl. car washes)
March: relocation sector
May: transport sector
September: green sectors
November: construction sector (incl. electrical engineering and metal)
Would you like to be properly prepared for a visit from the social inspectorate?
Our experts are ready to inform, advise and support you.