What are these and who are they for?
Temping and employment agencies such as Amplo (formerly T-heater), SMART, Tentoo, Ritmo Art and others have experience with the arts sector. They act as an employer and send their invoice to the organiser that the artist works for.
Working with an SBK (social bureau for artists) or employment agency is ideal for short, flexible professional assignments. It is a good choice if you earn more (or want to earn more) as an artist or teacher each year than you could under a KVR or reimbursement of expenses. Even if you don’t have another (full-time) job, this is a good choice. In other words: it is a good plan if you want to opt for a form of payment that is more viable in the long term, or offers better protection, without the complex paperwork required of an employer or self-employed person.
The social bureau or employment agency gives you an employment contract for a short-term job (for example as an artist or teacher). The organiser you work for simply receives an invoice. The employment agency deals with all the obligations, insurance, taxes, social security contributions etc. That works well for everyone: the artist is protected during their work in the same way as an ordinary employee and accrues social security rights (to unemployment benefits, a pension etc.). And all the organiser you work for has to do is pay an invoice, so there is no cumbersome payroll administration to do.
You can use an employment agency or social bureau for both artistic and non-artistic assignments, including workshops, productions, rehearsals and weekly lessons. You can work in Belgium or abroad. Foreigners can also use a social bureau employment agency as long as they are allowed to work in Belgium (i.e. they are in the country legally or have a work permit). You can also work for an employment agency if you are a student.
Payment, limits and maximums
Employment agencies apply the pay scales applicable in the sector where you work and also have to comply with minimum gross pay. Most agencies cannot draw up contracts for periods shorter than three working hours.
There is a big difference between the (gross) amount paid by the organiser you work for and the (net) amount that the employee ultimately receives. As with a long-term employment contract, a large proportion of the pay is used for social security contributions and taxes (be aware that this amount might be higher in Belgium than in your home country). The social bureau also charges VAT and a commission to cover its administration costs.
Calculation of pay
A basic calculation of pay is made as follows:
INVOICE AMOUNT incl. VAT (= what the organiser pays)
= INVOICE AMOUNT excl. VAT
– commission for the employment agency
– employer’s social security contributions
= GROSS PAY
– employee’s social security contributions
– income tax on wages
= NET PAY (= amount paid into your bank account)
+ any reimbursement of expenses
The employee also receives holiday pay and may get a Christmas bonus.
We would like to try and clarify the diagram above a little:
The invoice amount is the amount that the organiser has to pay, i.e. the amount on the invoice from the employment agency.
An employment agency is subject to VAT, which means that the agency has to charge VAT on the invoice. That is usually 6% for artistic work and 21% for non-artistic work (such as workshops or lessons). If you negotiate an invoice amount as an organiser, make sure you check whether or not this amount includes VAT. After all, it can make a big difference!
Both the employer (the employment agency) and employee (the artist or teacher) have to pay taxes and social security contributions on this invoice amount (excluding VAT).
All the costs incurred by the employer are deducted from the invoice amount. After the employment agency has paid its own commission and employer’s social security contributions, what is left is the gross pay.
The employee contributions are deducted from the gross pay: this means both the employee’s social security contributions and prepaid income tax. What is left after deduction of these contributions is the net pay. That is the amount effectively paid into the employee’s bank account.
If expenses are paid as well as the payment for work done, travel costs for example, these are added to the net pay. No taxes or social security contributions are payable on these expenses, only the employment agency’s commission.
You can always ask your contact person at the employment agency to do a simulation of your pay calculation for you. That might help you to set an hourly rate or total fee.
If you negotiate the rates you want to receive or pay, make sure you make it clear exactly what you mean. Say you ask for 250 euros: does that mean an invoice amount of 250 euros? Including or excluding VAT? Gross pay? Or the net amount paid into your bank account? Are your travel costs included in that amount? All that can make a huge difference! So be sure to make careful arrangements.
Paperwork and obligations
You need to tell the employment agency about your assignment and the payment for it in good time (= at least 24 hours in advance, and only on weekdays).
Are you going to pay someone through an employment agency or are you getting paid this way? We advise you to draw up a contract between the artist or teacher and the organisation they are working for that sets out all the agreements concerning the assignment.
Insurance (accident insurance etc.) and all the employer’s obligations are dealt with entirely by the social bureau or employment agency.
Combinations with other payments and statuses?
You are not allowed to combine or alternate different forms of payment for the same task done for the same organiser (e.g. sometimes use a KVR and sometimes have a contract through an employment agency).
However you can work for one organisation through an employment agency and use another method (e.g. KVR) for another organisation. You can also combine individual assignments through an employment agency with another part-time job (for which you are employed directly by the organisation).
If you want to build up an artist’s status, artistic contracts through a social bureau will count towards it.
Social security and taxes
The organisation does not need to take any action concerning social security or taxes – all that is dealt with by the social bureau and is included on the invoice.
The social bureau will ensure that social security contributions are paid by both the employer and the employee. This means that the employee is building up social security rights, such as the right to unemployment benefits, a pension, holiday pay etc. The organisation does not need to take any extra action: everything is included on the invoice.
Pay for work done through a social bureau is subject to income tax. The employment agency will draw up a tax slip that you need to include in your tax return.
For every assignment, it is the employee who determines how much income tax they pay (see the calculation of pay above). This is an advance payment of the income tax that is definitively incurred the following year. If it turns out that you have not paid enough income tax on all the temporary assignments you have done during the year, you will have to pay the extra to the tax authority the following year. If you have paid too much in advance, the tax authority will refund the extra.
As a rule, employees have to inform the social bureau when they register of the percentage of income tax they want to pay in advance. Danspunt advises you not to go for the minimum rate, to avoid unpleasant surprises when your taxes are calculated. If you have very few assignments or only a little work each year, you can stick to the minimum (11.11%). Usually, however, it works out cheaper to increase this percentage somewhat (the maximum is 30%).
Students pay far smaller social security contributions and less tax, so they keep a higher proportion of the amount on the invoice. Find out more here about student work.