The Belgian government has introduced a corona premium.
Corona Premium Process
The corona premium is not paid in cash and must be in the form of a consumption voucher. It can be granted only once, from 1 August 2021 until 31 December 2021, and may not exceed €500 per employee.
The granting of the corona premium must be included in a collective labor agreement (CLA) at the sector or company level or, for the companies without trade union delegation, in an individual agreement with the employees.
The corona premium can be issued by an accredited provider who already provides vouchers, and they must provide a list of traders where the voucher can be used.
The ruling states that “companies which have achieved good results during the crisis” may grant the corona premium to their staff but does not elaborate on this definition. It is up to the social partners to define this notion. If a sector does not require the employer to provide the premium, they can decide whether to grant the premium to their staff.
Social Security Obligation
The corona premium is exempt from personal income tax and fully deductible for the employer. It is, however subject to a special employer’s social security contribution of 16.5%.
In order not to be subject to regular social security contributions, the corona premium must meet the following conditions:
- Granting of the premium must be provided for in a CLA concluded at sectoral or company level or in an individual agreement if there is no trade union delegation;
- The CLA or individual agreement must mention the maximum nominal value of the voucher with a maximum amount of €10 per voucher and with a maximum of €500 in total per employee;
- The voucher must be issued in the employee’s name. This condition is deemed to be fulfilled if the granting and the total amount of the vouchers is mentioned on the individual account;
- The paper voucher clearly states that it is valid until 31 December 2022. The paper consumption voucher also indicates the date on which it was issued. In addition, the paper consumption voucher states that it can only be used in certain places;
- The vouchers cannot be exchanged in part or in full for cash.
When the corona premium is granted in the form of an electronic voucher, the following conditions must also be met to be exempt from social security contributions:
- The number of electronic vouchers and their gross amount must be mentioned on the payslip;
- Before using the electronic vouchers, the employee can easily check the balance and the validity period of the consumption vouchers;
- The choice for electronic vouchers must be laid down in a CLA concluded at sectoral or company level or in an individual agreement if there is no trade union delegation;
- The electronic consumption vouchers can only be issued by an accredited provider;
- The use of electronic consumption vouchers shall not entail any cost for the employee except in the event of theft or loss under the conditions to be laid down by a CLA concluded at sector or company level, or in the working regulations when the choice for the electronic consumption vouchers is regulated by an individual written agreement. The cost of the replacement support in case of theft or loss may not exceed the nominal value of a meal voucher if both electronic meal vouchers and electronic consumption vouchers are granted in the company. However, if the company only gives consumption vouchers, the cost of the replacement support may not exceed €5.
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