As well as self-employed persons, there is another category of people who in most cases are mandatorily subject to a similar social security status, namely assistants.

Assistants are any natural persons who aid a self-employed person to exercise their activity or replace them in so doing, but are not bound by an employment contract. Assistants are often, but not necessarily, members of the self-employed person’s family.

Assistants can only act on behalf of a natural person, not a company. However, they may serve as assistants to company representatives.

Occasional assistants

Occasional assistantsare not subject to the same social security status as self-employed persons.

Anyone fulfilling any of the following criteria may be classed as an occasional assistant:

  • exercising an occasional activity working on a temporary basis for no more than 90 days a year in total;
  • exercising an activity whilst a student receiving a family allowance (less than 80 hours a month);
  • aged under 20 during the year in which the activity is exercised;
  • aged under 25 and still studying;
  • serving as an assisting spouse.

Self-employed assistants are also considered to be self-employed from the fiscal viewpoint, so they must declare their earnings as income or profit and effect tax pre-payments. The relevant forms and recapitulative statements can be requested from the Wage Tax Documentation CentreExternal link (French-Dutch).

Assistants are also bound by a number of obligations.

Assisting spouses

Any person qualifies as an assisting spouseif they:

  • are the partner of a self-employed person (under the terms of a marriage or cohabitation contract);
  • effectively provide assistance;
  • do not have any other remunerative professional activity or receive a replacement income that entitles them to at least the same level of social security as that enjoyed by self-employed persons.

In the past, spouses assisting self-employed persons did not benefit from their own social security coverage because they were not personally liable to pay the same social security contributions as self-employed individuals.

  • Since 1 July2005, all persons contractually married to or cohabiting with a self-employed person are deemed to be assisting spouses and are personally subject to the same full social security status as self-employed persons unless they give their honour that they do not or are no longer effectively assisting their spouse;
  • Affiliation only remains voluntary for persons born prior to 1956.

Affiliation to a social insurance fund

Assisting spouses must join the social insurance fund to which their spouse is affiliated, doing so within 90 days of commencing their activity. An affiliation statement must be completed and submitted to the respective fund.

Social security contributions

Assisting spouses subject to full social security status pay social security contributions in their capacity as principally self-employed persons. These contributions are calculated on the basis of their own revenues and entitle them to healthcare, family services, pension payments and maternity assistance.

Assisting spouses who are only liable to pay work incapacity insurance and maternity insurance (reduced status) pay a relatively low quarterly contribution calculated on the basis of the income of the self-employed person whom they assist.

Persons born prior to 1 January 1956 are subject to a ‘reduced status’ (entitlement to work incapacity insurance and maternity insurance only). If they wish, they may voluntarily sign up for the full social security status of a self-employed person.

See the website of the National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed (NISSE) fora list of social insurance fundsExternal linkorto calculate your contributions and benefitsExternal link.