Belgium: Impact of Public Transport Fares Increase

March 29, 2021
3 mins read

From February 1, 2021, the subscription fees for the train (NMBS/SNCB) and the bus (TEC/De Lijn) will increase by 1.95%.

What does this mean for an employer?

In Belgium, an employer is obliged to contribute to the commuting costs of their employees:

  • For employees who take public transport to get to work, employers must contribute. Before July 1, 2020, employers only had to contribute if the employee traveled more than 5 kilometers by bus, tram, metro, or waterbus. From July 1, 2020, this contribution applies from the first kilometer.
  • According to the National Labour Council (CNT/NAR), all employers are subject to a minimum contribution, amounts that have remained unchanged since July 1, 2019.
  • For employees who come to work by their own means of transport (car, bicycle,) it is advisable to check whether a contribution was determined at the sector level.

Travel by train

Whether an employer has to contribute to this increase in fares depends on the joint industrial committee (sector) and the collective labor agreements that apply to each sector.

Please note:

  • If the company’s sector does not stipulate anything about the contribution to commuting costs or refers to the general minimum regulation provided for by the National Labour Council, the employer’s contribution does not increase, as the lump sums remained unchanged.
  • If your company’s sector provides for the employer’s contribution to be equal to a percentage of the actual rail fares, the contribution will increase.
  • If you make use of a third-party payer agreement whereby you as an employer pay a contribution of 80% of the actual price of the train season ticket to the train company and the state pays the remaining 20%, your contribution increases.


Travel by metro, tram, bus, or waterbus

If your company’s sector does not stipulate anything for this reimbursement, the price increase will impact your contribution to the commuting costs, depending on which of the following regulations applies:

  • Is the reimbursement of the transport linked to the distance traveled? The employer’s contribution is calculated on the fixed lump sums of the railway transport, but the contribution is limited to 75% of the actual transport cost.
  • Is the reimbursement of the transport not linked to the distance? The employer’s contribution is 71.8% of the actual transport cost, not exceeding the lump sum provided for the train for a distance of 7 kilometers.


Private transport

A mandatory contribution to private transport is not provided for by the National Labour Council. Therefore, the employer’s contribution to private transport is often provided at the sectoral or company level. If your sector refers to the lump sums of the railway transport, your employer’s contribution will not increase. However, some sectors refer to a percentage of the actual train fares. In this case, the employer’s contribution to the commuting costs will increase.


Combined public transport

What happens if an employee combines the train with one or more other means of public transport?

If your sector does not stipulate anything and if only one ticket has been provided for the whole distance, the employer’s contribution is calculated based on the established lump sums of the railway transport. If several tickets are provided, the employer’s contribution must be calculated separately for each means of public transport. These employer contributions must be added together.


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