Paper and electronic luncheon vouchers: two systems which co-exist
Luncheon vouchers are an alternative form of remuneration and are exempt from social security contributions under the conditions laid down in article 19bis of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969 implementing the Act of 27 June 1969 amending the Decree-Law of 28 December 1944 on social security for employed persons.
Since 1 January 2011, employers and workers also can mutually opt for the system of electronic luncheon vouchers. This system uses an electronic payment card (similar to a bank card).
Both systems (paper and electronic luncheon vouchers) already co-exist for more 3 years.
Those who opt for electronic luncheon vouchers, at all times can still switch back to paper luncheon vouchers. This principle of reversibility and the co-existence of both systems gives rise to very high administrative burden and costs.
Generalisation of electronic luncheon vouchers
After an analysis by the AAV (agency for administrative simplification), the National Labour Council has recommended the generalisation of the electronic luncheon vouchers in its Opinion of 25 March 2014 (opinion No 1.902).
The general use of electronic luncheon vouchers is beneficial to all parties (employers, workers and traders): smooth distribution, less errors, faster and more secure use, shorter repayment terms, etc. Also from an ecological point of view, this system brings nothings but benefits.
The position of the National Labour Council was incorporated in the Royal Decree of 29 June 2014 which was published in the Royal Decree of 24 July 2014: the 'paper' luncheon vouchers will gradually disappear.
However, the generalisation of the electronic luncheon vouchers and the abolition of the 'paper' luncheon vouchers will not happen overnight.
We will have to wait until 1 January 2016 for the final and full transition to electronic luncheon vouchers.
On the one hand, this transitional period must give the different players the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments, and, on the other hand, allow to run an information and promotion campaign with regard to the electronic system and its benefits.
In order to avoid that the paper and electronic luncheon vouchers will continue to co-exist after 1 January 2016, the last paper luncheon vouchers will be granted to workers in reference to the hours worked in September 2015.
All paper luncheon vouchers issued in 2015 will only be valid until 31 December 2015. In practice, the last paper luncheon vouchers (regarding the hours worked in September 2015) will only be valid for 3 months valid (instead of 12 months).
As from October 2015, every worker should receive his electronic luncheon voucher card.
Sources: Opinion No 1.902 of the National Labour Council (www.cnt.-nar.be), Royal Decree of 29 June 2014 amending article 19 of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969 implementing the Act of 27 June 1969 amending the Decree-Law of 28 December 1944 on social security for employed persons (Moniteur Belge 24 July 2014).
Author: Brigitte Dendooven