On Thursday 24 May 2018 twenty inspectors performed an inspection at Brussels South Charleroi Airport, around sixty Ryanair pilots and other staff were questioned. According to the labour prosecutor infringements have been found: pilots have been asked to work as bogus self-employed thus benefiting from no longer having to pay social security contributions (unlike under ‘traditional’ contracts with its pilots).
“Cabin crew that has been hired after 2012 are not subject to the Belgian social legislation, which is mandatory,” says Charles-Eric Clesse, labour prosecutor in Hainaut, Belgium.
“Based on an examination of the actual day-to-day operations of pilots and the degree of control and direction, which the airline exercises over them, the ‘self-employment’ status is under considerable doubt,” web site Eurocockpit previously wrote. “In fact, Ryanair set up a series of small businesses with Ryanair pilots at the helm of one of those small businesses, for example: a French Ryanair pilot testified that he is in charge of such a small business but doesn’t know his two co-workers in that same small business.”
Yesterday Ryanair explained that self-employment is completely legal and that it is a common practice at many other companies. Ryanair relies on pilots who are employed at Ryanair, and other pilots who are hired as self-employed. “Ryanair complies with all European rules in place,” a Ryanair spokesperson added.
While this model may (or may not) be legal in Ireland, it is largely considered by authorities in Belgium as being potentially bogus self-employment, and thus now the labour prosecutor has opened a criminal file while interrogations are ongoing.
In July 2016 Ryanair pilots homes were raided by German tax authorities.