Since 1 January 2016, eco vouchers can also be granted electronically. However, electronic eco vouchers are not mandatory: the employer can still choose to grant paper eco vouchers.
If certain conditions are met, electronic eco vouchers will be exempted from social security contributions.
There are numerous conditions which must be met in order to benefit from the exemption. These either only apply to the electronic eco vouchers or also to the paper eco vouchers.
1. Joint exemption conditions for paper and electronic eco vouchers
These conditions already existed before 1 January 2016, but have been amended as a result of the electronic eco vouchers.
To be exempted from social security contributions, the (paper or electronic) eco vouchers must meet the following conditions:
- the granting of eco vouchers must be laid down in a collective bargaining agreement on sector level or company level. If such an agreement cannot be concluded in the absence of a union delegation, a written individual agreement must be drawn up;
- the collective or individual agreement must include:
o the highest nominal value of the eco voucher, with a maximum of 10 EUR per eco voucher;
o the frequency of the granting of eco vouchers per calendar year;
The electronic eco vouchers are deemed to have been granted to the employee at the point in time at which his eco vouchers account is credited
- the eco voucher cannot be granted as a substitute or as a conversion of wage, premiums, benefits in kind or of any other benefit or supplement, whether or not liable to social security contributions;
- the eco voucher must be issued in the name of the employee; this condition is deemed to have been met if the number of eco vouchers and their amount are stated on the individual account of the employee;
- the eco voucher must also clearly state that:
o its validity is limited to 24 months, from the date of its availability for the employee;
o and that it can only be used for the purchase of products and services of an ecological nature which are included in the list appended to cba No. 98 of 20 February 2009;
These statements are only obliged for the paper eco vouchers. The validity of electronic eco vouchers only starts from the time the amount is paid into the employee's eco voucher account.
- the eco vouchers cannot in whole or in part be exchanged for money;
- the total amount of granted eco vouchers cannot exceed 250 EUR per employee.
2. Specific conditions for the electronic eco vouchers
In addition to the common conditions that apply to the above described electronic and paper eco vouchers, the electronic eco vouchers must meet 5 additional conditions to be exempted from social security contributions
- the number of electronic eco vouchers and their gross amount must be stated on the payslip (of the month(s) in which they are granted);
- before using his electronic eco vouchers, the employee can easily check the balance and the validity of the eco vouchers which he has received and has not used yet;
- the choice for electronic eco vouchers is regulated by a cba on company level or within the framework of a cba on sector level. If such an agreement cannot be concluded in the absence of a union delegation or if it regards a category of staff which is usually not concerned by such an agreement, the choice for electronic eco vouchers will be regulated by an individual written agreement.
For the employees who come under Joint Committee 322 (temporary agency sector), the choice can only be regulated by a cba on sector level.
- The electronic eco vouchers can only be made available by an issuer who is jointly recognized by the minister responsible for social affairs, the minister responsible for employment, the minister responsible for the self-employed and the minister responsible for economic affairs. Electronic eco vouchers, issued by an issuer whose recognition has been withdrawn or has expired, will remain valid until the date of expiry of their validity.
- The use of the electronic eco vouchers may not entail any costs for the employee, except in the event of theft or loss under the conditions to be laid down by a cba on sector or company level, or in the Employment Regulations if the granting of the electronic eco vouchers is regulated by an individual written agreement. Thus,:
o the costs for replacing the card in the event of theft or loss shall by no means exceed the nominal value of the eco voucher, if both electronic luncheon vouchers and electronic eco vouchers are granted in the company;
o the costs for replacing the card shall not exceed 5 EUR if only electronic eco vouchers are granted in the company.
All electronic eco vouchers which do not meet all of the conditions above, are considered by the NSSO as wages and shall therefore be liable to employers' and employees' social security contributions.
3. Entry into force
These conditions for the exemption from social security contributions for electronic eco vouchers became effective on 1 January 2016.
Source: royal decree implementing the electronic eco vouchers and laying down the conditions and procedure for recognition for their issuers, Belgian Official Gazette 24/12/2015.
Auteur: Anne Ghysels