Social information and investigation service, Belgium

About

Country: 
Belgium
Sectors: 
All
Target Groups: 
workers/suppliers

 

The federal government of Belgium has set up the Social Information and Investigation Service to intensify and streamline the fight against social welfare benefit fraud. This new organisation is specifically designed to improve coordination between the various parties involved in fraud prevention. As part of this initiative, the competencies of social welfare inspectors have also been extended.

 

Background

The federal government of Belgium has set up the Social Information and Investigation Service (Service d’inspection et de recherche sociales / Sociale Inlichtingen – en Opsporingsdienst, SIRS/SIOD) to intensify and streamline the fight against social welfare benefit fraud. This new organisation is specifically designed to improve coordination between the various parties involved in fraud prevention. As part of this initiative, the competencies of social welfare inspectors have also been extended. It is expected that in the future, companies will be subject to more frequent and focused inspections by the authorities.

SIRS/SIOD was created by merging two existing institutions: the Federal Board for the Fight against Illegal Work and Social Fraud, and the Federal Coordination Committee. The organisation was developed to improve the performance of the existing national and regional organisations that aim to combat benefit fraud. In particular, SIRS/SIOD was set up to fight large-scale benefit fraud more effectively, to improve the central coordination of and cooperation among social inspection services, and to improve policy information and reporting.

Objectives

The main objective of SIRS/SIOD is to improve the exchange of information and the efficiency of control measures by carrying out further targeted and coordinated audits. The different missions of the SIRS/SIOD are to:

  • carry out policies from the Council of Ministers;
  • lead prevention actions and training actions;
  • provide support to control services and to urban districts;
  • develop international collaboration between control services;
  • prepare collaboration protocols between federal authorities and regional authorities to organise the fight against undeclared work and social fraud;
  • develop operational and strategic plans and assess their fulfilment.

Specific measures

The initiative aims to improve coordination of existing activities, particularly audit procedures. In addition, the most popular measures are:

OASIS

The Social Inspection Services Anti-fraud Organisation (Organisation Anti-fraude des Services d’Inspection Sociale). This service determines warning indicators for situations such as:

  • an increase in turnover but a decrease in the number of employees;
  • a reduction of registered personnel above a certain threshold;
  • labour mobility (labour market entries and departures) above the average industry level;
  • large differences in the total wage sum and the number of employees in a company compared with the employer’s previous employment declaration (Horlings, 2011).

LIMOSA

The International Migration Information System (Landenoverschrijdend Informatiesysteem Migratie Onderzoek Sociaal Administratief) is a federal government project that was set up to prepare the country for the complete opening of the labour market for workers from the new EU Member States on 1 May 2009. The LIMOSA system comprises three web-based applications: the introduction of a general reporting requirement, setting up a central database and establishing an electronic office (Horlings, 2011).

DIMONA 

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 (Office national de l’Emploi, ONEm / Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid, RSZ). Every time an employee is hired by or leaves an employer, an electronic notification is submitted to all the social security agencies (Horlings, 2011).

Actors involved

The actors involved in the implementation of the project included the:

  • Federal Ministry of Justice (Service public fédéral Justice/Federale Overheidsdienst Justitie);
  • Federal Ministry of Social Security (Service public fédéral Sécurité sociale / Federale Overheidsdienst Sociale Zekerheid);
  • Federal Ministry of Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (Service public fédéral Emploi, Travail et Concertation sociale / Federale Overheidsdienst Werkgelegenheid, Arbeid en Sociaal Overleg);
  • administrators of the National Employment Office (Office national de l’Emploi, ONEm / Rijksdienst voor Arbeidsvoorziening, RVA) and the National Social Security Office (Office National de Sécurité Sociale, ONSS / Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid, RSZ);
  • leaders from the inspection services and regional services;
  • the secretary of the National Council of Labour (Conseil National du Travail, CNT / Nationale Arbeidsraad, NAR);
  • a public prosecutor designated by a college of prosecutors;
  • the general commissioner of the federal police;
  • six representatives of social partners;
  • administrators of the National Retirement Office (Office National des Pensions, ONP/ Rijksdienst voor Pensioenen, RVP), National Institute of Health and Disability Insurance (Institut National d’Assurances Maladies –Invalidités, INAMI / Rijksinstituut voor ziekte- en invaliditeitsverzekering, RIZIV), National Office of Family Allowance for Salaried Employee (Office National d’Allocations familiales pour Travailleurs Salairés, ONAFTS / Rijkdienst voor Kinderbijslag voor Wernemers, RKW).

The initiative began in January 2003 under the direction of the Federal Board for the Fight against Illegal Work and Social Fraud and the Federal Coordination Committee. The project was renamed and reorganised in 2006 and is still ongoing. The main target groups of the project include companies and social welfare inspection services.

Outcome of evaluations; lessons and conclusions

Achievement of objectives

No formal evaluation of SIRS/SIOD has yet been carried out. However, the figure of 77.3% of successful controls is important. That means that the SIRS/SIOD has a good database that allows the issue of undeclared work to be tackled. Also, the figure of 9,918 people who were in infraction means that undeclared work in Belgium could be decreasing.

Obstacles and problems

As for any measure, even the most effective to tackle the undeclared work, we only see the number of infractions and therefore, the part of undeclared work that decreased. However, it is very difficult to evaluate the overall amount of undeclared work that still remains.

Lessons learned

Table 1 shows the sectors where undeclared work is more prevalent, such as construction, retail or Horeca. It also shows the districts where the percentage of undeclared work is the highest. This allows federal and local authorities as well as social partners to develop special measures to tackle undeclared work

Impact indicators

Table 1 offers an overview of the number of controls that have been made by urban districts, but also by sectors. In some sectors, the percentage of undeclared work found can be more than 100%. Indeed, in one control, more than one person can be considered as doing undeclared work. Therefore, the number of infractions increases for the sector concerned.







Table 1: Number of controls

Urban districts

2010

Number of UW/districts

Sectors

2010

Number of UW/sectors

% UW/sectors

Antwerpen

873

705

Construction

3,752

1,271

33.9

Brugge-Veurne

795

597

Horeca

3,721

4,997

134.3

Brussels

1089

1,459

Retail

1,360

1,121

82.4

Charleroi

494

505

Industry

807

516

63.9

Dendermonde

587

478

Transport

423

159

37.6

Gent

468

331

Garages

385

252

65.5

Halle-Vilvoorde

331

274

Agriculture and fishing

317

226

71.3

Huy

256

246

Arts and entertainment

129

79

61.2

Kortrijk-Ieper

739

410

Wholesale

261

123

47.1

Leuven

833

716

Taxi

113

50

44.2

Liege

964

683

Cleaning

103

115

111.7

Limburg

2014

787

Communication

78

41

52.6

Luxembourg

176

174

Bakery

75

109

145.3

Mechelen

619

351

Others

1,306

859

65.8






Table 1: Number of controls

Mons

325

347

Total

12,830

9,918

Namur

279

339

%

100%

77.30%



Nivelles

302

437

Oudenaarde

266

99

Tournai

470

348

Turnhout

652

395

Verviers-Eupen

298

237

Total

12,830

9,918

%

100%

77.30%

Source: SIRS/SIOD (statistics of urban districts): http://www.sirs.belgique.be/siodsirs/moduleHome.aspx?id=24108

Transferability

A service such as SIRS/SIOD could function well in any other national context, as it is not specific to Belgium. However, a lot depends on current arrangements and support structures in the area of social information and inspection services.

Contacts

Service d'information et de recherche sociale (SIRS)

Rue Ernest Blerot 1


1070 Bruxelles


Bibliography

Belgium Information Office (undeclared work): http://www.belgium.be/fr/emploi/contrats_de_travail/types_de_contrats/travail_non_declare/.

Eurofound (2009), Measures to tackle undeclared work in the European Union, available at /ef/publications/report/2009/undefined/measures-to-tackle-undeclared-work-in-the-european-union.

Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Concertation (definitions and explanations): http://www.emploi.belgique.be/sirs.aspx.

Horlings E. (2011), Social information and investigation service, Belgium, Eurofound: /ef/observatories/eurwork/case-studies/tackling-undeclared-work-in-europe/social-information-and-investigation-service-belgium.

Social Information and Investigation Service (definitions and explanations): http://www.sirs.belgique.be/siodsirs/default.aspx?id=19900.

Social Information and Investigation Service (2010 report): http://www.sirs.belgique.be/siodsirs/moduleHome.aspx?id=20032.

Social Information and Investigation Service (statistics): http://www.sirs.belgique.be/siodsirs/moduleHome.aspx?id=24108.

Michel Ajzen, Institut des Sciences du Travail – UCL

 

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