The costs of living has drastically increased over the last few months given the rise of the cost of raw materials, food, energy etc. As an employer, you can stand by your employees and help them to reduce these costs of living. In some cases, you are even legally obliged to do so…
How to confront the high costs of living as an employer ?
First of all, most Joint Labour Committees (JLC) in Belgium provide for mandatory indexations of employees’ salary at a fixed time or on a more irregular basis. For example, in JLC 200 (competent for the majority of white-collar employees in Belgium) the indexation of 10,85% in January 2023 will be historically high, according to the latest forecasts.
While such an indexation mechanism is – depending on the applicable JLC – in any case mandatory, kindly remember that the salary indexation is supposed to cover the higher costs of living for your employees.
Hybrid working or teleworking
Some employees will prefer to work at the office to save electricity and heating, while others will prefer to work from home to save on commuting costs of living. You may of course (temporarily) allow your employees to work from the office as well as from home. Please note that a telework annex is mandatory in the event of structural work from home.
If your employees work from home 5 days per month on average, you can also pay them a monthly net home office allowance of up to 142,95 EUR. This will help them cover the costs of heating, electricity or water when working from home. You may also grant an internet allowance up to 20 EUR per month. It is possible to temporarily agree upon a higher home office and/or additional internet allowance, but do make sure this is mentioned in writing.
Some Joint Labour Committees already impose some kind of reimbursement of commuting costs for employees who are coming to the office with their own vehicle.
For other Joint Labour Committees where this is not mandatory, employers may grant their employees a (temporary) mileage allowance of up to 0.4170 EUR per kilometer. This allowance will be exempted from social security contributions. From a tax point of view, the allowance will be exempted up to a maximum annual amount of 430 EUR (= amount in 2022).
An environmentally and budget-friendly alternative for a car may consist in a net bike allowance of up to 0.25 EUR per km if the employee uses his/her own bike to come to the office (please note that some Joint Labor Committees already impose such allowance), or to offer a bike lease to employees under certain conditions.
Use of facilities at the office
If your employees work (partially) from the office, they may use the facilities available at the office to reduce the costs at home. Employers can for example put free coffee at the disposal of their employees or provide for (dried) fruits and nuts during working time, which the employees can consume at work. Employers can also make meals available to their employees, but this will lead to a small benefit in kind for the employee.
What if I need more information about costs of living?
Do not hesitate to contact Pro-Pay that has immigration specialists and fill out the contact sheet. They can also assist if you have questions about employment law, social law or payroll law in Belgium.