Dimona (Déclaration IMmédiate/ONmiddellijke Aangifte) is an electronic system all employers are requested to use to register a new employee with the National Office for Social Security (Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid, RSZ). Every time an employee is hired by or leaves an employer, an electronic notification is submitted to all social security agencies.
Dimona (Déclaration IMmédiate/ONmiddellijke Aangifte) is the name of a system whereby all employers are required to immediately register a new employee electronically with the National Office for Social Security (Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid, RSZ). This ensures that every time an employee is hired by or leaves an employer, an electronic notification is submitted to all social security agencies.
The system was first tested among employers in the construction industry. Although it has been in operation since January 2003, for a number of sectors – namely, temporary agencies and public transport, as well as construction – the requirement of immediate declaration has existed since 1 January 1999.
Since the end of December 2005, local authorities have also been able to request a special number from the central social security database for temporary foreign workers, thus allowing their employers to submit a Dimona declaration.
One of the advantages of making a correct declaration is that employers – the system’s central target group – do not have to maintain a general personnel register, as the existing personnel file is always available electronically. Dimona has also allowed for a number of simplifications in the management of social documents. In addition, it documents the relationship between employer and employee, providing a gateway for interactive data traffic between employers and the government with respect to employees.
Dimona has been established to support administrative simplification and to improve social security controls. The system is the link between the various social security bodies attached to the Crossroads Bank for Social Security (Kruispuntbank van de Sociale Zekerheid, KSZ). In addition to data on changes in employment, Dimona also registers other information, such as wage data. Employers who enter data can also request information on their employees, which saves them having to maintain an employment register.
The central objective of Dimona is to oblige employers to electronically inform the RSZ of any employees who enter or leave the company.
Employers in Belgium are required by law to declare their employees to Dimona. This requirement also applies to public authorities. The system applies to current employers as well as new employers hiring their first employee. A Dimona declaration is also compulsory for certain categories of employees – such as voluntary firemen, trainees and employees on short-term contracts, for example models, hostesses and tour guides.
By obtaining a Dimona statement, new employers are also fulfilling their legal obligation to report as employers to the RSZ. Failure to declare or making an incorrect declaration can result in imprisonment of between eight days and one year, or a fine of between €2,500 and €12,500.
Employers can submit a Dimona declaration using an online tool for individual declarations; alternatively, if they have to register large numbers of declarations of more than a dozen a week, they can transfer databases on a weekly basis.
Evaluation and outcome
Achievement of objectives
Although Dimona has not yet been formally evaluated, figures on its usage suggest that the system has been successful. Dimona appears to have achieved its stated objective of obliging employers to electronically inform the RSZ of employees that enter or leave their company. As the findings in the table below show, almost all medium-sized and large companies use Dimona and most users are satisfied with the system, especially due to the introduction of a digital employment register. Small companies score lower in terms of usage: this is mainly due to the larger presence of self-employed people in this category and the fact that most self-employed persons do not have to declare workers to Dimona. The same source shows that although only 33% of self-employed people use the system, 78% of users are satisfied with it.
|Small companies (%)||Medium-sized companies (%)||Large companies (%)|
|Acquainted with Dimona||88||98||89|
|Consider that Dimona is relevant for the company||79||98||99|
|Is satisfied with Dimona||72||85||88|
Source: Janssen, Kegels and Verschueren, 2006
Obstacles and problems
One potential risk is that public actors may believe that Dimona will make undeclared work impossible. As the Flemish Minister for Labour, Education and Training stated: ‘a few minor exceptions notwithstanding ... nobody can be employed without Dimona’ (proceedings of the Flemish parliament, 2 December 2005).
The catering and horticulture sectors have encountered both technical and practical problems in implementing Dimona. These sectors work with large numbers of temporary workers. As a result, the government proposed alternative technical solutions and could not immediately introduce Dimona as a general requirement for the entire economy.
In 2005, 14 million Dimona declarations were submitted (Robben and Maes, 2006). By March 2005, the overall number of Dimona declarations rose to over 79 million. By early 2007, Dimona had processed 1.3 million declarations a month.
The costs of introducing Dimona – for instance, in terms of building an IT infrastructure – are unknown.
Dimona has improved the Belgian government’s ability to verify the payment of unemployment benefits. The inspectors of the National Employment Office (Rijksdienst voor Arbeidsvoorziening, RVA) have compared the RVA’s unemployment database with data extracted from Dimona. In 2006, RVA inspectors examined 26,267 dossiers and discovered 15,120 dossiers with irregularities – amounting to about €12.96 million in unlawfully received unemployment benefits.
In principle, it would be possible to implement Dimona in other countries also. However, two possible obstacles may arise in relation to its transferability:
- privacy legislation may limit the linking of public databases – such links involve enriching privacy-sensitive data and using data for purposes other than the intended use, which may be in violation of national privacy laws (the European context is determined by Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data);
- the technical requirements of the system may be too high for some countries – the internet penetration among employers and progress in the field of e-government may be insufficient. For example, Dimona requires a digital signature.
Main organisation responsible: RSZ
Cremers, J. and Janssen, J. (eds.), Shifting employment: Undeclared labour in construction, European Institute for Construction Labour Research, CLR Studies 5, Brussels, 2006.
European Employment Strategy, Evaluation of employment policy 2003–2005, Belgium, September 2005.
Janssen, L., Kegels, C. and Verschueren, F., De administratieve lasten in België voor het jaar 2004, Federaal Planbureau, Planning Paper 100, February 2006.
Robben, F. and Maes, P., De Kruispuntbank van de Sociale Zekerheid als motor van e-government in de sociale sector, KSZ, 2006.
Nationale Arbeidsraad [National Labour Council], Vereenvoudiging en modernisering van de sociale administratie bij te houden door de werkgevers – Sectorale afwijkingen, Recommendation No. 1,448, 13 November 2003.