OUTSOURCING AND SUPPLY CHAINS IN BELGIUM
Pieter Pecinovsky and Miet Vanhegen
PhD Researchers at the Institute for Labour Law of KU Leuven, Belgium
It is hard to find general data and numbers for outsourcing in Belgium. In 2008 Ernst &
Young (now E&Y) found in their European Outsourcing Survey that 81% of the
Belgium Company outsourced certain services, which made it the (relatively) biggest
outsourcer of all the surveyed countries. Unfortunately, Belgium was not included in the
survey of 2013. Due to the diversity of actors, there is no real official association or
committee which represents outsourcing companies or the sector and which would be
able to keep statistical data. However, it is obvious that outsourcing is a very popular
tool for companies in order to keep their focus on their core business. One of the main
legal forms to organize outsourcing in a company is (sub)contracting. In this sense, a
company, the user company, can rely on another company, the (sub)contractor, and its
employees to provide certain services or take over a part of the production process.
Because of the strict contractual nature of sub(contracting), there is no conclusive legal
framework with regard to the protection of employees in such contractual relation.
Temporary agency work however is a more well-defined type of labour, with clear rules
and limits. In 2015, there were 584.332 agency workers in Belgium, which equaled to
100.345 full time equivalents. This was a record high in the history of the Belgian
labour market. Especially students (217.880) seem to find their way to the world of
work through agency work, but it is also an important tool for 50+ workers (38.924).
42,7% of the agency workers are white collar workers, 57,3% are blue collar workers.
The gender balance is 60/40, with more male agency workers. The agency workers still
only make up 2,63% of the working population. Nonetheless, the agency activity grew
in 2015 with 11,16% and there was an increase in all the 3 regions, yet Flanders still
counts for 67,96% of all agency workers. There were 1.255 Temporary Employment
Workers, with a total permanent staff of 7458 employees, boosting an annual revenue of
close to 5 billion euros (data from the annual report of Federgon, 2015)
1. Is outsourcing a legal form of production organization?
In Belgium, outsourcing can be organized through various legal forms.