An audit by the social inspectorate: how do you prepare?
Whether for an announced routine check or a surprise audit, a visit by the social inspectorate often causes stress. It need not be the case, however: good preparation is half the battle.
What is the social inspectorate?
The social inspectorate is part of the FPS Social Security. It audits companies to verify that they apply the social legislation correctly. The social inspectorate and the Social Security inspectorate are amalgamated into one single control body since 1 July 2017. This merger results in fewer overlapping checks, more specialisation and higher efficiency. In addition to the social inspectorate, there is also the technical inspectorate (occupational safety) and the RVA/ONEM inspections (everything related to unemployment).
When can you expect a check by the social inspectorate?
The vast majority of inspections are announced routine checks. In those cases, you have some time to gather all the necessary documents. If the audit stems from a complaint lodged by an employee, a competitor or a local resident, for example, the social inspector often shows up unexpectedly. In total, almost a quarter of all social inspectorate audits are unannounced. These are mainly prevalent in sensitive sectors, such as the hospitality industry and construction.
Tip: in the case of a surprise audit, avoid trying to find out what caused it. Social inspectors are bound by professional secrecy.
What can you do before the inspection?
Keep all social documents in a clear and accessible location. The inspectors must be able to access them at any time, even if you are not there in person. These are the documents that inspectors check almost every time:
The work regulations
Work regulations are mandatory even if you only have one employee. And that’s not all: they must be present in the workplace. Like that, everyone is aware of the rights and obligations you and your employees have within your organisation.
This is particularly important if you have part-time employees. The schedules are always checked and any variable work schedules need to be displayed in advance. That’s because the inspectors want to verify that you don’t use part-time workers to cover full-time schedules. More info on employment contracts.
Salary and benefits
The individual annual accounts for each employee show whether you have paid the statutory minimum wage. In addition, inspectors check that the wages and job classifications are consistent with reality, and they determine whether employees enjoy the benefits to which they are entitled under the collective labour agreements.
Reimbursement of expenses
You have to prove that the expenses refunded to your employees were necessary to carry out their job. Parking tickets, receipts or invoices are used as evidence of expenses.
If your employees have a car, telephone or laptop that they also use privately, the inspector checks whether you pay taxes and social security contributions on those benefits in kind. A CO2 contribution will also be added for cars. What if you only offer professional benefits? You need to make sure you have signed proof of practical agreements with your employees in that case.
Everyone – you and your employees – must cooperate during an audit. So, play it safe and check that all social documents are in order on a regular basis. This will save you from paying (sometimes high) penalties.