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The social balance sheet 2005

Listed author(s):
  • Ph. Delhez

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • P. Heuse

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

Registered author(s):

    Each year, the National Bank examines the provisional results of the social balance sheets of Belgian enterprises. As the social balance sheets are not yet all available for 2005, the study is based on a limited population of enterprises, compiled according to the principle of a constant sample. This population is made up of 48,976 enterprises employing around 4,441,000 workers in 2005. The main results of the analysis are as follows. As an average, employment increased by 0.5 p.c. between 2004 and 2005. Although the year-end growth rate was also 0.5 p.c. for these two years, the rate of increase in the volume of labour expressed in full-time equivalent slowed down during the year. Net staff recruitment also declined during 2005, falling to only half the previous year’s level. In fact, employment expanded in small and medium-sized enterprises while large companies recorded staff cuts. In industry, the workforce contracted once again. It remained stable in trade, transport and communications whereas it increased in the other branches, especially in other services and construction. The female workforce grew by around 8,400 units between year-end 2004 and 2005, representing 37.7 p.c. of total employment at 31 December 2005 ; the number of male employees declined by around 1,400 units. Net staff recruitment is proportionately greater for full-time workers. However, because of the changes in the working arrangements of existing staff, the rate of part-time working increased by almost 4 p.c. Part of this rise is due to the development of the time credit scheme, increasingly used to reconcile work and family life, but also to facilitate the transition between working life and retirement. Enterprises filing full-format accounts supply more details on staff movements during the year. There has been an increase in the number of workers with higher education qualifications, while the number of staff with low and medium skills has declined. However the majority of the workers taken on still fall into these last categories of staff. New part-time employees have lower qualifications than those recruited as full-time staff. The male full-time workers recruited are on average less skilled than new female full-time workers. Despite the large net intake of temporary workers, the total for the latter varies only very slightly, since some of these workers are offered a permanent contract while other temporary jobs are subject to a high rate of turnover. However, the turnover of employees on permanent contracts is also quite significant, since 12.8 p.c. of them left their employer in 2005. Finally, the number of staff leaving declined between 2004 and 2005, mainly because of a reduction in the use of early retirement schemes and redundancies. The full-format accounts also contain information on the use of agency workers and persons on secondment from an outside firm. It is therefore possible to assess the relative importance of all temporary contracts which, in these companies, altogether represent 9.2 p.c. of workers. Small organisations use more agency workers, while larger ones prefer fixed-term contracts. Manufacturing industry and the construction sector use primarily agency workers while the service branches make more use of fixed-term contracts. Persons on secondment and substitution contracts are found mainly in the service branches. Hourly labour costs increased by an average of 3.6 p.c. between 2004 and 2005 in enterprises of the limited population. The article shows that, while the level of hourly labour costs differs significantly between branches, the dispersion of these costs is also considerable : the ratio between the average costs recorded in firms with the lowest costs and the average calculated for those with the highest costs varies by a factor of 2 to 5 between branches. Finally, in regard to training, the financial effort indicator declined once again in 2005. The training budget is estimated to be 1.05 p.c. of staff costs in 2005, against 1.13 p.c. in 2004 and a peak of 1.42 p.c. in 2000. However, there was a slight increase in the rate of employees’ participation in training : 36 p.c. of workers had access to training in 2005, one percentage point more than at the beginning of the decade. These performances still fall well short of the targets set by the inter-generation solidarity pact adopted at the end of December 2005, which – in line with earlier agreements – stipulates that the first indicator should reach 1.9 p.c. in 2006 and the second 50 p.c. by 2010.

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    Article provided by National Bank of Belgium in its journal Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): (2006)
    Issue (Month): iii (December)
    Pages: 55-86

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    Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2006:m:december:i:iii:p:55-86
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