Since the start of the crisis employers have been able to give their employees that work from home a little extra to cover additional costs involved in homeworking like heating and electricity. The bonus is tax free and now stands at 144.31 euros a month. Employees qualify for such an allowance if on average they work at least one day a month from home.
Employers are not bound to provide this little extra and it seems few are doing so! Only 5% of employers that pay the allowance are paying the top amount. Securex’s Heidi Verlinden: “In general employers are paying low amounts. Since the introduction of this extra remuneration on average employers have been paying 78 euros a month. That’s far under the top amount.”
Many employers are registering when employees work from home, but Heidi explains this is often to cut costs: on such days employers are not bound to pay a contribution towards the trip to work.
Many companies feel that they already make a financial contribution towards working from home. Heidi Verlinden: “There’s the flat rate for expenses and employers also provide employees with equipment to allow them to work from home: an internet subscription, a laptop and a telephone, etc.”
Monica De Jonghe of the Belgian Employers Organisation VBO says “the homeworking allowance is one part of the puzzle constituting the complex issue of the various allowances that employers can pay.”
Securex believes that in time employers will probably replace part of the home-workplace travel allowance by the homeworking allowance. At present half of all employers pay a home-workplace travel allowance.
Els Vanderhaegen, legal expert at Securex notes that employers that pay above the maximum homeworking allowance rate will have to be able to prove these costs were incurred. Otherwise the additional remuneration will be treated like wages, will be taxed and employers’ social contributions will be due.