Belgian salaries with a focus on essential occupations during the Covid-19 crisis

Work & training
Belgian salaries with a focus on essential occupations during the Covid-19 crisis

In 2018, a full-time employee in the private sector earned a gross average salary of 3,627 euros per month, according to the latest figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office. The median, i.e. the amount for which 50 % of employees earn less and 50 % of employees earn more, is 3,361 euros gross per month. In this press release, Statbel focuses on some essential occupations, and more specifically on the people who came into frequent contact with customers and patients during the lockdown in the spring of 2020, and who were therefore unable to telework.

A number of sectors, such as health care, were taken into account specifically for this analysis of essential occupations. As a result, the median falls to 3,312 euros per month and the average gross monthly salary to 3,553 euros. The latter amount will be used as a benchmark for comparing the wages of the essential occupations mentioned above. It appears that these wages are often lower than the average gross monthly salary. The level of education of the workers seems to explain this wage difference to a large extent.

The following observations already stand out:

  • Studying significantly increases the chance of a higher salary. In the health care sector, for example, highly skilled workers, such as doctors or dentists, receive a monthly salary well above the national average. Less qualified personnel, such as personal care workers, receive a lower salary.
  • Shop employees are among the least paid professions. Their monthly salary is almost 30 % below the national average.
  • Air transport pays above average, but for other occupations within the transport and logistics sector, salaries are below what the average Belgian receives. With 2,526 euros, couriers earn the least.
  • Cleaning staff and child care workers earn one third less than the average employee. With a gross salary of 2,317 euros per month, child care workers are even the least paid occupation in Belgium.

Wages and salaries mentioned in this publication always refer to gross monthly wages. This concept includes periodic premiums that are paid at each payment period. Examples include premiums for night or weekend shifts. Premiums that are only paid exceptionally, such as thirteenth-month pay or double holiday pay, are not included in this concept. Non-statutory benefits are not taken into account either.
In principle, the survey on earnings is limited to the NACE sections B to N. This means that some sectors, such as agriculture, fishery, public administration, education and health care, are not included in the statistical population. Statbel’s historical set of figures are therefore limited to this population. For this press release, however, we include some additional sectors, such as health care. This is why this press release mentions two different average and median salaries. Furthermore, the analysis remains limited to full-time employees from enterprises with at least ten employees.