Thinking about accepting a job abroad? Important things to consider

As numerous industries are increasingly organised on an international scale, more and more Belgians (temporarily) accept a job abroad in the course of their career, for example to share locally acquired expertise on a project basis. In addition, international reorganisations ensure that positions and assignments are relocated across national borders. If you want to stay on board, you have to accept a position in a neighbouring country or even further away. Do you face a similar drastic next step in your career? Many factors need to be taken into account.

Getting packed right away…

You probably have developed significant experience and feel good in your job. Add job security and loyalty, and you may be tempted to stay with your current employer. Moreover, an assignment abroad often offers opportunities for personal growth.

… or not?

You should carefully think about a number of factors before you decide to stay with your current employer and accept a position abroad. Your new position will of course have a huge impact on your private life. Is your family situation compatible with your new professional life? Do you need your social network in Belgium to feel good? What will be the impact on your social security status? You also have to think about financial, fiscal and legal aspects.


1. Secondment or a new contract?

If your employer proposes a secondment for a maximum of twenty-four months, administrative changes will be minimal. If you are offered a new contract, you will be protected by a number of European coordination rules that prevent you from paying taxes or social security contributions twice or from losing social security entitlements, but you should take into account that you do not have the same rights everywhere.

2. Impact of Brexit

If you are offered a job in the United Kingdom, you may be in for a turbulent ride. Soft or hard, Brexit will have a drastic impact on employment in the UK in the coming years.

The definition of a paid activity may differ from country to country, with consequent effects on the accrual of social security entitlements and the taxation of your income. 

3. Employed activities in several countries

If you intend to pursue employed activities in several member states, you should inform yourself in advance about the position of the Belgian National Social Security Office (NSSO) as to which country has the right to tax your income. Employers often prefer separate employment contracts for employed activities in different countries (the so-called ‘salary split’). It becomes even more complex when your employer offers you a consultancy contract. The definition of a paid activity may differ from country to country, with consequent effects on the accrual of social security entitlements and the taxation of your income.

4. Pension scheme

Last but not least, you should also pay attention to your pension scheme. Is it possible to continue your group insurance if you remain employed within the same international group? Little changes in case of secondment.  However, if you are employed abroad on the basis of a ‘salary split’ under Belgian labour law, it is not easy to maintain the Belgian pension savings plan on a full-time basis. An international pension scheme does not guarantee equal benefits for employment in different countries.


Is not everything clear after reading this article? That’s perfectly understandable: working abroad is a complex matter. Fortunately you can rely on ACV Puls if you have any questions.


Author: Lieveke Norga | Picture: iStock