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Students and employers are satisfied with Student@work 2013-06-19

On December 1st 2011 the National Social Security Office (NSSO) has started Student@work, a project destined to manage the introduction of the new rules on student work. On the basis of statistical data and of the results of a proper poll, the NSSO has recently reported to the National Labour Council (NAR/CNT) on the experiences acquired after the first anniversary of Student@work. Which are the effects of the new legislation? To which extent have the instruments provided for by the NSSO functioned properly ? The results seem to be positive.

Less rigid rules are an incitement to work

What’s new?

As from January 1st 2012 students are allowed to work annually a larger number of days (50 instead of 46) at reduced social contributions. Unlike the situation in the past, these days may be freely chosen: the barriers between the summer period and the other quarterly periods have disappeared. The different contribution rates which were applicable to the summer, on the one hand, and the other quarterly periods, on the other hand, have been replaced by one single contribution rate of 8.13%.

More student work than ever before

Thanks among other things to the new simplified rules, students have never before done more student jobs as during the year 2012. The NSSO has registered a record increase of 16% in the number of days worked. Student employment mostly increases outside the summer period, which may result from the lifting of the distinction between the quarterly periods. The number of students who fully spend their quota of 50 days remains limited.

The rules are well known

A proper poll reveals that the new rules are well known. 87% of the students hold the view that rules are understandable or even very understandable, whereas these figures are even higher among employers.

The online day counter provides for more certainty

Prevents from overspending the quota

In order to put the implementation of the rules on the right track, the NSSO has offered a day counter enabling students and employers to check online how many days the student is still allowed to work at reduced social contributions. Its objective is to prevent students and employers from exceeding the quota of 50 days, as it happened now and then in the past.

This has succeeded rather well. With an annual volume of more or less 50,000 days (0.5% of the total) the number of unjustified overshoots remains marginal.
72% of the students and 92% of the employers have a positive view on the user-friendliness of the application. Nevertheless approximately 20% of the questioned students encounter problems with its means of access, a point of particular interest.

Reserve and work

The day counter is being updated automatically on the basis of the data figuring in the declaration of employment Dimona. The employer ‘books’ through Dimona the student for the number of days agreed upon in the contract. In case the student does not work on certain days, the counter is rectified automatically on the basis of the employment data of the quarterly declaration (DmfA). In that way the days during which the student has not worked are not lost for the student.

This systems functions equally. 91% of the planned days have been registered as days worked. Of the remaining 9%, a share of 8% has still been released in 2012. 1% was only unblocked in 2013, i.e. after the 4th quarter, but since there are few students who fully spend their quota of 50 days, this hardly poses a problem.

One third of the students creates a certificate

The application enables students to create a certificate by which they can in case of a job application prove to the employer the number of days worked. The certificate also mentions a code permitting the employer to check online the number of days.

Slightly more than a third of the students (35%) has drawn up a certificate in 2012, mostly at the employer’s request. More than 90% of the students create the certificate at the employer’s or the temp agency’s request.

Certainty for employers

The very small number of overshoots, the good functioning of the reservation system and the broad acceptance of the certificate provide for a large legal certainty among all parties concerned. This is confirmed by the poll: more than 90% of the employers hold the view that the day counter and the certificate offer more certainty than the former system.

50.000 likes on Facebook

The NSSO has been assigned to inform students and employers about the new rules and instruments. Thanks to a broad public campaign, including a television commercial, students were rapidly informed about the new rules. The website www.studentatwork.be has been visited around 1.5 million times throughout 2012. Not less than 90% of the visiting students have found that the information being offered was appropriate or even very appropriate. The Facebook page of Student@work has in the meantime attracted more than 50,000 likes, a score which is exceptionally high for a governmental initiative.

Student@work offers support by telephone, by means of an internet form and through the social media. Students are satisfied with this support. The classical support channels score satisfaction rates ranging from 60 to 70%, which is fairly considerable. The satisfaction rate is even higher as regards the support offered through Facebook, which scores 80 to 90%. Employers are also satisfied with the means of support but presumably since they have their own ‘help lines’ in the form of social secretariats and other service providers, they use these possibilities to a lesser extent.

Equal contribution receipts

The total proceeds in contributions linked to student work has almost reached an amount of 53 million euro. As intended, the proceeds have thus been the same and they would have been in 2011, without taking into account the effects of the changed legislation.

Conclusion

The NSSO looks back with a sense of satisfaction to the start of Student@work.
The new rules have quickly taken root. The electronical applciation (the ‘day counter’) is being properly used and minimizes the risk of exceeding the qouta of 50 days. The communication campaign has reached its goal and has put Student@work on the map as the reference par excellence in the field of student work.

Briefly, the NSSO has created with Student@work a well functioning framework for the new rules on student work and has heightened as such the legal certainty for the employer and the student.

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