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Belgium – Temp hours decline as market expected to stagnate

29 March 2012

In February, the number of hours worked by agency temporary employees in Belgium declined by -6.94% year-on-year. This was due to a -10.55% decrease amongst blue collar workers and a -1.41% decline amongst white collar workers. This is according to the latest monthly figures concerning the Belgian temporary staffing industry published by Federgon, the Federation of Employment Partners.

Month-on-month, the number of hours worked by agency temporary employees stabilised and went up by +0.02%. This was mainly due to an “uneven development on the market”, Federgon said, because the number of hours decreased by -0.29% amongst blue-collar workers but increased by +0.45% amongst white collar workers.

In February the Federgon index of temporary employment remained flat at 218.05 points when compared to the previous month. The Index was set at a base of 100 in January 1995. All figures were seasonally adjusted by the federation.

Despite the downward trend in February, Federgon also announced that overall in 2011 temporary employment in the country experienced growth of 10%, as the number of hours worked increased by +9.96% to 176 million hours. But this is still -5% below the peak the industry experienced in 2007 when 187 million hours were recorded.

Annual turnover rose by +12.9% to €4.2 billion while the number of temporary workers increased +7.7% to 547,000 – a staggering 182,516 of those are students.

The number of temporary workers aged over 50 rose +7.5% to 28,400 in 2011. This is a trend that is likely to continue as the labour market is “tight” and employers are increasingly valuing the experience 50+ workers bring with them, the federation said. However, Federgon also anticipates that the number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds working as temporary staff will rise. Particularly  more immigrants and long-term unemployed persons are expected to increase their presence on the market.

Belgium is currently in the middle of implementing the Agency Worker Directive (AWD). Yesterday Federgon called for a “swift and correct enforcement,” demanding the total lifting of restrictions on temporary employment.

“There are still prohibitions [in place that] now need to be urgently lifted, not only because Europe requires this, but primarily because the temporary employment agency sector made an essential contribution to the proper functioning of the labour market,” Federgon said. 

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