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Setting up your own business

Self-employed as a main or secondary occupation?

Make the right choice between main or secondary occupation

You want to be your own boss? If so, then the status of self-employed person as a main occupation is made for you. Not sure yet or not ready to give up your current job? Then consider the status of self-employed person as a secondary occupation. Your chosen status will determine your social protection and the social contributions you pay. We will explain this.

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Self-employed as a main or secondary occupation?
The main differences at a glance
  • As self-employed as a secondary occupation, you combine your self-employed activity with another professional activity.
  • The self-employed activity as a secondary occupation may not compete with your employer.
  • You acquire social rights through your main occupation, so if you are self-employed as a secondary occupation, you will acquire social rights through your employer.
  • As self-employed as main occupation, these are acquired through your self-employed activity, which is why you pay higher social security contributions.

Difference between occupations

There are several differences between main and secondary occupations, but the essential difference is that, as an employee, you contribute to health care by making contributions from your salary. You pay, but you feel it less because your employer does it for you.

The equivalent for an entrepreneur are social contributions. You also contribute to health care, but considerably less compared to an employee. This is why self-employed persons should protect themselves through insurances and plan their pension well.

How you contribute to social security will determine whether you are self-employed as your main or secondary occupation. If you work more than 50% as an employee, you acquire social rights through your employer. Hence, you also pay lower social security contributions.

But if you are fully self-employed or if you only work a small part of your time as an employee, you are responsible for your social security and you will have to pay higher social security contributions.

How do you acquire social rights?

Very briefly: by paying social security contributions. That is why, as self-employed as a main occupation, you are obliged to pay at least a minimum contribution, even if your income is low.

Self-employed as main occupation

Are you mainly self-employed? If so, you will be granted the status of self-employed as a main occupation. You will then benefit from all the advantages associated with this. 

When are you self-employed as your main occupation?

  • You are not engaged in any other professional activity other than your self-employed occupation
  • In addition to your self-employed activity, you work less than 50% as an employee or civil servant 
  • You work less than 60% as a permanent teacher
Exception: Have you reached retirement age or are you enjoying early retirement? Then you come under a separate regime.
 

Your benefits as self-employed as main occupation?

You acquire social rights. Thus, you have a safety net if you:

  • Incur medical costs
  • Are unable to work due to illness or accident
  • Retire
  • Are compelled to stop working as a self-employed person or go bankrupt
  • Provide informal care
  • Have or adopt a child

Are you expecting? Good news: Self-employed mothers are entitled to maternity leave, an allowance, and 105 service vouchers. And since 1 May 2019, fathers and co-mothers also receive leave and a childbirth allowance.

Disadvantages of self-employment as a main occupation

Since your business or company is your work, your income depends on your results. Is your self-employed activity not doing so well? Then you don’t have a proper job to fall back on. Starting as a self-employed person as your main occupation involves risks, but you don't have to let that stop you.

  • Look for extra protection against loss of income
  • Keep an eye on your financial situation
  • Stay in touch with your accountant

Tip: As a new entrepreneur you can start at a temporarily lower rate.

Would you like more concrete figures for your situation?

Contact an expert

Self-employed as a secondary occupation

Starting as self-employed as a secondary occupation? Excellent choice. This is the ideal way to get a taste of life as a self-employed person. Your plan isn’t going as expected? Then you still have your main occupation as a safety net.

When are you self-employed as a secondary occupation?

When you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You work at least half-time as an employee in the private sector.
  • You are at least a half-time civil servant (at least 8 months or 200 days a year). 
  • As a permanent teacher, you work at least 60% of a full-time schedule. As a non-permanent teacher, you work at least 50% of a full-time schedule.
  • You receive a replacement income while retaining your pension rights. Think of a disability benefit, unemployment benefits under the 'stepping stone to self-employment' system or benefits for a full-time time credit. If you combine a benefit with self-employment as a secondary occupation, best always check the conditions.

Beware: Make sure you don’t compete with your employer when carrying out a secondary occupation. If you are employed by a painter, he or she won’t be pleased if you will possibly be painting for the same clients in your spare time. Better discuss this with your employer beforehand in order to know what is acceptable.

What are the benefits of being self-employed as a secondary occupation?

  • You have extra income
  • You can deduct your professional expenses from your taxes
  • You get a taste of self-employment without taking the plunge
  • You take fewer risks as you can rely on your income from your main occupation 
  • You only pay social security contributions if your income exceeds a certain amount

The disadvantages of self-employment as a secondary occupation?

  • Your self-employed activity takes up a lot of time
  • You pay social security contributions, but you don’t get any additional social rights
  • Your income is added to your salary. As a result, you will probably be in a higher tax bracket (in the case of sole proprietorship). 
  • You incur costs to invest, pay your accountant, relocate ...

In other words, as self-employed as a secondary occupation, you will enjoy most of the benefits of being self-employed, without taking all the risks or incurring all the costs. Some people prefer to take the plunge straight away, others prefer to test the waters.

Securex's experts are ready to guide you every step of the way.

Discuss your plans
Ready to become self-employed? View the step-by-step plan
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