New legal framework for working from home.

By Corona Currently, about half of the Belgian employees occasionally work at home.
This falls under occasional teleworking and therefore there is no legal framework.
Teleworking is still compulsory, but as of 1 July it will be abandoned but remains advisable.

It is expected that employees will want to continue working at home for 2 to 3 days. Will you also continue to work at home at least one day a week?
At the moment, however, we are moving from occasional teleworking to structural homeworking and there are more expense allowances for the employee from the government.

Conditions for structural work at home:

  • Working at least 5 days per month in the employee’s private premises
  • The employee is not obliged to work at home
  • Working from home should not be detrimental to the needs of the company
  • No overtime can be charged when working from home

Use of electronics at home can already be reimbursed.

The employee is not obliged to provide a homework allowance.

On 27 March, according to an article in Belgian newspaper “De Standaard“, only 1.7% received an allowance for working from home.

In case of structural homeworking, it is possible to provide a lump sum expense (internet, print paper, ink, mouse pad, water, electricity, heating, maintenance, property tax, coffee, …) which is exempted from social security contributions up to € 129,48 net/month and in the period April May and June even up to € 144,31.

In addition, an extra allowance can be given of a maximum € 20.00/month for the professional use of a private internet connection and subscription AND of maximum of € 20.00/month for the professional use of the private computer with peripheral equipment.
OR of maximum EUR 10,00/month for the professional use of a private second computer screen, printer/scanner without a private computer (EUR 5,00/month per item during a maximum of 3 years). It is important here that no costs are reimbursed twice.

Now it is also possible to buy office equipment with tax benefits.

The employer is not obliged to purchase office material.
Office equipment such as standing workstations are, in our opinion, necessary for a productive employee.
Correct office equipment not only increases motivation but also the wellbeing of employees.
After all, 37% of all employees suffer from shoulder pain and in case of absence this leads to an average of 30 days of absenteeism.
Reducing sedentary behavior is good for their hearts.
You can find more information here.

Sedentary behavior is the 4th deadliest risk factor worldwide.

Furthermore, it is also possible for the employer to make office material (office chair, desk, desk lamp, cupboard, computer, keyboard, …) available to the employee in a budget-neutral way. A distinction must be made between reimbursement of expenses (the employer pays) or provision (the employee pays). However, it is important that it concerns furniture that is also present in the office. A life of 10 years for furniture and 3 years for equipment must be assumed.

If the material is too expensive, the tax authorities can tax it as a benefit in kind.

In the case of reimbursement of expenses, it is difficult to control what material the employee buys, as a lump sum is used.
The employer can also remain the owner of the furniture but make it available to the employer.
A win-win situation is obtained when the furniture is made available via flexible compensation or also called a cafeteria plan. In this case, most of the money that would otherwise go to tax is used for the purchase. The employee can use the furniture at a large discount (up to a third of the price) and retains certain freedom to choose which furniture helps him the most. The employer not only gets motivated and more productive employees, but he can also even introduce it in a cost-neutral way!

The flex reward plan is the missing link.

We are all different and have different needs. We very much believe in the advantage of offering our furniture via a cafeteria plan. For example, we see that the Notadesk standing desk is not suitable for people who need two screens all the time.
These people might be looking for a desk lamp for correct lighting. A study by SD Worx shows that more than 20% of employees rank their salary package number one in terms of their priorities in the workplace. In studies by Securex (2017) and Acerta (2019), 70% of employees said it was important to be able to put together part of their salary themselves.

The first step in setting up the cafeteria plan is to create a budget for the employees. It is best to use part of the end-of-year bonus (13th month) for this, as this is subject to a higher rate of withholding tax than their normal monthly salary.

An employee has three times the budget for the use of a desk or an electric bicycle if the budget is made available to him by means of a cafeteria plan instead of payment and this in a cost-neutral approach by the employer.

The extra budget obtained by the employee is achieved by the absence of taxes and contributions such as employers’ contributions, withholding taxes, social security contributions and benefits in kind.

You already have a cafeteria plan but no furniture is available here?

The fact that many employees telecommute is also evident from their choice of fringe benefits. A study by Acerta shows that the multimedia category has become 31% more popular. So it is worth investigating whether it is worth offering office furniture in addition to multimedia in order to make teleworking more comfortable. This is not to say that you should offer our products in your cafeteria plan. But we would like to ask you to interact with your employees and investigate which tools are missing from the current range for them. And this brings us back to the beginning, we don’t want to tell you how best to work, we just want to give everyone the choice to adapt their workplace to their needs. Moreover, our studies show that these needs are different every moment of the day. And this is a good thing, because by allowing people to rebuild their workstations during the day, you help them to move, and this is ultimately what our bodies are made for.

Additional information

However, there are a number of complexities that need to be taken into account. For example, an employee leaves the company. If the employer reimbursed the expenses, the employee will have to pay back the purchase price of the furniture on a pro rata basis. In the case of posting, it is the residual value.

There is still no complete legal framework for a cafeteria plan, which is why rulings are often used. Due to the relatively high cost, however, a cafeteria plan is not always suitable for small companies (without cafeteria). What is certain is that cafeteria plans will gain in popularity and it is worth investigating this route.

Notadesk cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of this information.
We always recommend working with a professional partner (KPMG, Acerta, EY, Payflip, …).