Belgium: Updates regarding the Telework Cost Compensation
Author: Chris Van Olmen
Structural teleworkers (remote workers), who work on average at least one day per week (5 days / month) from home, can receive a cost compensation (the so-called “office compensation”) by the employer to cover the costs of electricity, heating, etc. It is not necessary to prove the actual value of the costs, but the National Office for Social Security and the Tax Authorities accepts a lump sum compensation. As from 1 June 2022, an “office compensation” of a maximum of 140.15 euro / month will be allowed. This is the third time this year that the accepted amount has increased (from 1 April to 31 May, the accepted amount was 137.40 euro), which of course is connected to the high inflation rate.
Next to this 140.15 euro, the employer can grant the following additional maximum lump-sum compensations:
- 20 euro for the professional use of a private computer or laptop;
- 20 euro for the professional use of the private internet connection;
- 10 euro for the professional use of a private second screen, or a private printer / scanner if the teleworker has a professional laptop / computer (not a private one).
Until 1 June 2022, there was an alternative to the office lump-sum compensation, by analogy of the system for homeworking in article 119.6 of the Employment Agreements Act, in which the teleworker could also receive a cost compensation of 10% of the normal gross remuneration for the days worked remotely. The NOSS has now decided to cease this option, except for teleworkers who were already compensated on the basis of this system and on the condition that their employment contract does not change.
The end of this 10% system for telework will align the policy of the NOSS with that of the tax authorities (which did not refer to such a system in their instructions). It will also slowly end the situation wherein employees who work 5 days per week from home would receive a cost compensation of 10% of their gross remuneration without any social security contributions, which could lead to a considerable amount.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
- Make sure that the cost compensation for teleworkers stays below the abovementioned thresholds.
- Do not agree to a cost compensation based on the 10% rule for a new employee who will perform telework and identify the existing employment contracts that already include the 10% cost compensation, in order to decide whether to stop using the system now or to continue until the contract is amended in the future.