Target group reduction for first hires

Since 2016, you can get a significant reduction in employer social security contributions for the first six hires. But early 2022, some changes came into effect.

First or additional recruitment

Until 2021, you could benefit from a full exemption from basic contributions for the first hire. That exemption was for an unlimited period.

For the next 5 recruitments – employee 2 to 6 – you received a fixed reduction for a certain number of quarters.

There were a number of conditions: the new employee could not replace an employee who had been employed in the same company during the four quarters preceding that of recruitment. So it had to be an additional recruitment. This means that you did not pay any employer contributions in the 4 quarters preceding your first hire. For your second employee, you were only allowed to pay contributions for one employee in the 4 quarters preceding the recruitment, etc. In principle, this condition was checked per technical business unit, but that concept was not defined.

First hire: no longer unlimited

From now on, the exemption from social contributions will be limited to 4.000 euros per quarter.
This means that there is still a full exemption from basic employer contributions if the gross monthly wage is around 5.330 euros or less.
The exemption applies, as before, indefinitely.

Second to sixth hire

The reductions for the second to sixth recruitment remain unchanged, as these amounts were already limited in amount and time:

5 first quarters: 1.550 euro (Employee 2) or 1.050 euro (Employee 3, 4, 5 of 6)

4 following quarters: 1.050 euro (Employee 2, 3, 4, 5 of 6)

4 following quarters: 450 euro (Employee 2, 3, 4, 5 of 6).

Excluded employees

Until now, some temporary employees also qualified for the reductions, but as of 2020, the following temporary employees are ineligible:
• employees until 31 December of the year in which they reach the age of 18
• students in the context of the alternating training
• servants
• job students, IBO contracts, volunteers
• certain trainees
• persons subject to part-time compulsory education, and
• casual employees in the horticultural and agricultural sector.

Two categories are now being added: casual employees in the catering sector and flexi-jobbers. You can therefore no longer benefit from a reduction in social security for these employees.
On the other hand, you may also ignore these employees when determining the number of employees you already have.

The concept of “technical business unit” (TBE)

To determine whether you are a 'new employer for a 1st employee, or to determine what rank from 2 to 6 a new employee is, you should not only look at the legal entity. You need to look at the bigger picture, which is the technical business unit or TBE. If your company is part of a TBE, the full TBE will therefore be looked at to determine whether you can be considered a new employer, to determine whether it is a second, third, etc. recruitment, or to determine whether the recruitment can be considered a replacement or not.

Legal entities form a TBE if they:

have common employees (social ties), such as staff which transfers, or employees who continue the same job as a self-employed person, and

have similar or complementary activities (socio-economic interdependence), such as: bank branches that split up into different branches or an independent IT service within the same group.

This can be legal entities that exist simultaneously or successive legal entities.

In order to open the right to a reduction, the new employee may not replace an employee within the TBE; it must therefore concern additional employment beyond the TBE.

But how do you determine whether or not a new hire is a replacement within a TBE? To do this, proceed as follows. First you determine the maximum number of employees who were simultaneously employed within the TBE in the course of 12 months (day to day) preceding the recruitment. Note that the new law introduces a tolerance of a maximum of 5 calendar days on which a temporary increase in the number of employees in the reference period of 12 months will not be taken into account. In concrete terms, this means that you do not have to count the 5 days with the highest number of employees to determine the maximum employment in the reference period of 12 months.

Then you take the total number of employees that are taken on by the new employer on the first day and increase it by the number of employees that may still be employed by the other employers in the TBE.

If the result of the 2nd step is at least one more than the first step, you are entitled to the target group reduction for the recruitment of a 1st (or 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th) employee.


The reduction is not linked to a specific employee. The employer can therefore choose again every quarter for which employee he applies the reduction: if an employee leaves the employment and is replaced by another employee, you can continue the reduction of the employee who has left the employment with the new employee.

Transitional arrangement

In principle, the right to the target group reduction for employment before 1 January 2022 is retained. The new rules regarding ranking at a TBE do not apply to the past. This means that, if the entitlement to the reduction started before 1 January 2022, it remains possible within a TBE to have several first recruitments for the same rank in different legal entities.

The reduction for first recruitment before 1 January 2022 in a situation that would no longer qualify under the new rules is also maintained. If you received the reduction for a flexi-job employee before 2022, you can therefore continue that right after 31 December 2021 with an ordinary employee, but because the flexi-job employee is no longer charged to check whether there was employment for that particular rank in the course of the previous 12 months, the right can also be reopened if all the conditions are met.