Belgium’s labour court orders Ryanair’s Irish cabin crew agency Crewlink to repay €600,000


The Brussels labour court has ruled that Crewlink, an Irish cabin crew agency for low-cost airline Ryanair, must repay approximately €600,000 to the Belgian Social Fund for Temporary Workers (cfr. Belgisch Fonds voor Uitzendkrachten/Fonds social belge pour les intérimaires). The Dublin-based Crewlink served as the direct employer of Ryanair personnel stationed in Belgium for several years until the Irish airline began hiring them directly in 2019.

In a recent decision, the labour court in Brussels has ruled that Crewlink, an Irish subsidiary of the renowned airline Ryanair, must reimburse the Belgian Social Fund for Temporary Workers an amount close to €600,000. This judgment sheds light on a longstanding legal dispute that originated from the way Ryanair managed its workforce in Belgium.

Crewlink, headquartered in Dublin, served as the primary employer for Ryanair personnel stationed in Belgium for an extended period. Under this arrangement, Ryanair argued that its operations in Belgium were subject to Irish labour law, asserting that Crewlink effectively acted as an intermediary staffing agency. Crucially, Crewlink did not possess the necessary official recognition as a staffing agency in Belgium. Consequently, it did not contribute to the Social Fund for Temporary Workers, an institution responsible for disbursing various benefits, including year-end bonuses, to temporary workers.

The Brussels labour court has now ruled that Crewlink was indeed required to adhere to Belgian labour law and, consequently, must fulfil its financial obligations to the Social Fund for Temporary Workers. This amounts to more than €521,000 in outstanding contributions, in addition to €70,000 in guarantees and €15,000 in legal fees.

Hans Elsen, a representative from ACV Puls, a Belgian labour union, emphasised that this verdict underscores Ryanair’s attempts to navigate the legal landscape through various complex structures. He commented on the union’s news platform (, stating that “this ruling once again illustrates how Ryanair tries to circumvent regulations using various legal constructs.”

The decision by the Brussels labour court has far-reaching implications, highlighting the importance of compliance with local labour laws and employment regulations, even in cases involving international companies like Ryanair and its subsidiaries. It serves as a reminder that legal obligations cannot be easily avoided, and employers must operate within the framework of the countries in which they conduct business.


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