What should I do if the inspectorate catches me during an inspection?

The inspectorate may independently decide to carry out an inspection in the workplace. If they find employees who have no legal residence, they have no choice but to pass those names on to the police and immigration services.

Tell the truth

You will not be punished because you were working clandestinely. Only your employer can be punished for that. You can only win if you tell the inspector the truth. Whatever you tell them, this will have no effect on your residence rights. Bear in mind that an inspector primarily wants employee rights to be respected!

  • Always tell them how long you’ve been working and what wage you’ve been paid. The inspector will then check whether you should receive a higher wage. You can then request this salary later.
  • Give the inspector your real name. If you are deported, give your name and contact details to someone you trust in Belgium: a social service, FAIRWORK Belgium, trade unions, etc. They can then check afterwards whether you can still receive a salary for example – even if you are no longer in Belgium.

If an employee is caught in the workplace without legal residence, the inspectorate will assume that you have worked for this employer for at least three months and must therefore be paid. Only if the employer can prove that you have been working for less than three months will you lose the right to three months’ wages. You do not receive these wages automatically, so ask help from an organisation that can support you (FAIRWORK Belgium or a trade union).

But my employer says…

An employer will advise you to hide or run away if there is an inspection. Don’t take any unnecessary risks which might endanger you. Bear in mind that if the inspectorate catches you in the workplace, this is proof that you have actually worked there.

Employers often ask you to lie to the inspectorate. They ask you to say that you’re a client, or that this is your first day at work. This will make it impossible for you to ask for your wages afterwards. You may still be deported if you have no legal residence. It is never in your own interest to lie. It is, however, in the employer’s interests. Always tell the truth.

Important: You and your colleagues risk being ordered to leave the territory, placed in a detention centre, deported and issued with a ban from entering the European Union. You do not run this risk if you file a complaint with the labour inspectorate yourself.