Corona premium: €500 maximum but under what conditions?

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal expert)
Date:

Companies that have performed well during the crisis are allowed to grant a corona premium of up to €500 (on top of the wage margin of 0.4%) to their employees in 2021.

The corona premium can be granted from 01.08.2021 until 31.12.2021; it will take the form of (paper or electronic) consumption vouchers and will be subject to a special employer contribution of 16.5%.

If you decide to grant your employees a corona premium in the form of consumption vouchers, don't forget to declare them to your Payroll Consultant. 

Which companies?

Only companies that have performed well during the crisis can (but are not obliged) grant a corona premium to their employees.

The notion of "company that has performed well during the crisis" is not defined.

At the social level

The corona premium will be subject to a special employer's contribution of 16.5%.

On the other hand, this premium will not be subject to the ordinary social security contributions if certain conditions are met; these exemption conditions are specified by the Royal Decree of 21 July 2021.

Corona premium in the form of paper or electronic consumption vouchers 

In order not to be subject to the ordinary social security contributions, the corona premium, granted in the form of paper or electronic consumption vouchers, must meet the following conditions.

  1. The granting of the corona premium must be provided for in a collective labour agreement (CLA) concluded at sectoral or company level.

If such a CLA cannot be concluded due to the lack of a union delegation or if it concerns a category of personnel that is not normally covered by such a CLA, the granting may be governed by an individual agreement. This agreement must be in writing and the amount of the corona premium cannot be higher than that provided for by the CLA in the same company.

  1. The CLA (sectoral or company) or the individual agreement must mention the maximum nominal value of the consumption voucher with a maximum amount of €10 per voucher.
  2. The consumption 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 consumption vouchers appear on the employee’s individual account.
  3. The total amount of the corona premiums granted by the employer may not exceed €500 per employee.
  4. The corona premium can be issued from 01.08.2021 until 31.12.2021.
  5. The paper consumption voucher must mention:
    • the date on which it is issued;
    • that it is valid until 31.12.2022;
    • that it can only be used:
      • in establishments in the hotel and catering sector (‘horeca’);
      • in retail businesses which, in the physical presence of the consumer in the establishment unit, offer goods to the consumer, including repair services when the goods to be repaired are physically transported to and from the establishment unit by the consumer;
      • in wellness centres, including saunas, sunbeds, jacuzzis, steam rooms and hammams;
      • in activities named under the Joint Committee for Tourist Attractions (JC 333); in cinemas and in institutions in the cultural sector (recognised, approved or subsidised by the competent authority);
      • in bowling alleys, swimming pools and fitness centres and in sports associations (for which there is a federation, recognised or subsidised by the Communities or belonging to one of the national federations);
      • in beauty salons, non-medical pedicure institutes, manicure salons, massage salons, hairdressers and barbers, tattoo and piercing studios;
      • in driving schools.
  6. The electronic consumption vouchers are supposed to be issued to the employee when his consumption voucher account is credited.
  7. The electronic consumption voucher is valid until 31.12.2022; it can only be used in the establishments/associations or for the activities listed above.
  8. Consumption vouchers cannot be exchanged in part or in full for cash.

Corona premium in the form of electronic consumption vouchers

In order not to be subject to the normal social security contributions, the corona premium, granted in the form of electronic consumption vouchers, must also meet the following additional conditions.

  1. The choice for electronic consumption vouchers is regulated by a company CLA, possibly within the framework of a sectoral CLA.

If such a CLA cannot be concluded due to the absence of a trade union delegation or if it concerns a personnel category that is normally not covered by such a CLA, the choice is regulated by an individual written agreement.

  1. The number of electronic consumption vouchers and their gross amount must be stated on the payslip.
  2. The electronic consumption vouchers must be issued by an approved publisher.
  3. Before using the electronic consumption vouchers, the employee must be able to check the balance and the validity period of the consumption vouchers that have been issued to him and that have not yet been used.
  4. The use of electronic consumption vouchers shall not entail any cost for the employee except in the event of theft or loss of the payment card; the conditions for the employee's contribution shall be laid down:
  • in a CLA at sectoral or company level;
  • or by the work rules if the choice for electronic consumption vouchers is regulated by an individual written agreement.

The cost of the replacement support shall by no means exceed:

  • the nominal value of a meal voucher if electronic meal vouchers and electronic consumption vouchers are granted in the company;
  • €5 if only electronic consumption vouchers are granted in the company.

At tax level

The corona premium awarded in accordance with the above principles is exempt from income tax.

The premium and the special contribution due on this premium constitute deductible expenses for the employer.

Do you want a template of a collective or individual agreement for consumption vouchers? This type of document will soon be available from our Legal Partners. You can contact them via legalpartners@partena.be.

Sources: Royal Decree of 21 July 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 workers, Belgian Official Gazettte 29 July 2021 ; Act of 18 July 2021 on temporary support measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic (1), Belgian Official Gazette, 29 July 2021.

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