Corona premium: clarification by the NSSO

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal expert)
Date:

The NSSO has published an update of its instructions concerning the awarding of the corona premium in the form of consumption vouchers.

Before going through the update of the NSSO, we would like to remind you that the corona premium is subject to a special employer's contribution of 16.5% if certain conditions are met.

Update! The draft Royal Decree to which the NSSO refers in its instructions was published on 24 December 2021. The NSSO's instructions, which are discussed in this Infoflash, remain unchanged.

Decision to award the corona premium: by 31 December 2021 at the latest

Based on a draft Royal Decree(not yet published), the NSSO makes a distinction between:

  • the date of the decision to award the corona premium and the date establishing entitlement to the corona premium 
  • and the actual issuing date of the corona premium (see "Actual issuing of consumption vouchers: by 31 March 2022 at the latest").

The NSSO then confirms the principle according to which the decision to award and the decision establishing entitlement to the corona premium must:

  • be before 1 January 2022
  • and be the subject of a collective labour agreement (CLA) or an individual agreement concluded (signed) by 31 December 2021 at the latest.

Note - In the case of a CLA, it must be filed with the Registry of the Directorate General for Collective Labour Relations as soon as possible (but not necessarily before 1 January 2022).

However, the employer must also respect the deadlines and formalities provided for, if applicable, by the sectoral CLA concluded with regard to the corona premium.

Choice for electronic consumption vouchers: by 31 March 2022 at the latest

We remind you that the choice for electronic consumption vouchers must be regulated by a company CLA, possibly within the framework of a sectoral CLA, or by a written individual agreement.

If the sectoral CLA specifies that the corona premium is to be paid in the form of electronic consumption vouchers, the employer does not have to conclude a company CLA or an individual agreement.

If this is not the case (i.e. if the sectoral CLA does not stipulate that the corona premium is to be paid in the form of electronic consumption vouchers), the employer who opts for the electronic format is obliged to stipulate this in a company CLA or in an individual agreement.

According to the NSSO, this company CLA or individual agreement must be concluded by 31 March 2022 at the latest. Otherwise, the corona premium can only be awarded in the form of paper consumption vouchers.

Please note! If the sectoral CLA also stipulates, in addition to the amount, that the vouchers must be awarded in electronic form, unless a company opts for paper vouchers, this is sufficient according to the NSSO.

Actual issuing of consumption vouchers: by 31 March 2022 at the latest

The actual issuing date of the corona premium must be distinguished from the date of the decision to award the corona premium and the date establishing the entitlement to the corona premium (see "Decision to award the corona premium: by 31 December 2021 at the latest").

The "actual issuing of the corona premium" refers to the loading of the consumption vouchers onto the employee's electronic payment card or the delivery of the paper consumption vouchers to the employee.

Based on a draft Royal Decree(not yet published), the NSSO specifies that the actual issuing of the corona premium in the form of consumption vouchers must take place no later than 31 March 2022.

Awarding of a "corona premium": formalities

An employer is allowed to grant a "corona premium supplement" to employees who are awarded a corona premium under a sectoral CLA; however, the total amount may not exceed EUR 500 per employee.

The NSSO confirms this principle by reminding that the awarding of this "corona premium supplement" must be provided for:

  • by a company CLA if there is a trade union delegation in the company;
  • by individual agreement if there is no trade union delegation in the company; no arbitrary distinction shall be made between employees.

The other conditions required for this supplement not to be subject to the ordinary NSSO contributions also remain applicable.

Do you want a template of a collective or individual agreement with regard to the corona premium? Contact our Legal Partners via legalpartners@partena.be.

The clarifications made by the NSSO do not change the following formalities:

  • the corona premium must still be recorded in the DMFA for the 4th quarter of 2021;
  • the corona premium must still be stated on the December 2021 payslip and on the 2021 individual account.

If you award a corona premium to your employees, we ask you to inform your Payroll Consultant in advance.

Sources: www.socialsecurity.be; Royal Decree of 19 December 2021 amending Article 19quinquies of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969 in execution of the Law of 27 June 1969 revising the Decree-Law of 28 December 1944 concerning the social security of employees, Belgian Official Gazette of 24 December 2021.

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