Your payroll administration in Q1-2021
1. WAGE LIMITS 2021
Traditionally, the wage limits will be adjusted again.
These wage limits are relevant for the assessment of the validity of and/or the execution of:
- a non-compete clause: in a non-compete clause, the employee agrees to not carry out a similar activity when leaving the company, albeit by setting up a company himself or by entering into service with a competitor.
- an arbitration clause: in an arbitration clause, the employee and the employer agree in advance to submit any disputes arising from the employment agreement to arbitration.
- a training clause: in a training clause, an employee, who is allowed to follow a training course during the execution of his employment agreement at the employer’s expense, agrees to reimburse part of the training costs to the employer if he leaves the company before the expiry of an agreed period.
As from 1 January 2021, the following gross annual wage limits will apply to:
- the non-compete clause, with the exception of the sales representatives: 72.402 euro
- the non-compete clause applicable to the sales representatives: 36.201 euro
- the arbitration clause: 72.402 euro
- the training clause: 36.201 euro
2. EXTENSION TARGET GROUP REDUCTION FIRST RECRUITMENTS
In order to reduce labour costs, the Belgian legislator introduced the target group reduction for first-time recruitments.
A new employer who recruits the first six employees benefits of:
- a full waiver of the basic social security contributions at charge of the employer for an indefinite period for the first employee;
- a reduction of the social security contributions at charge of the employer for a number of quarters for the second to sixth employee.
The target group reduction for the first employee is of indefinite duration, but for the time being it can only be applied for recruitments between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2020. The employer would therefore no longer be able to benefit from this target group reduction for a first recruitment in 2021.
However, a legislative proposal has been submitted to extend the target group reduction for a first employee beyond 31 December 2020.
There is a good chance that the extension will actually be put into legislation, but there is currently no legal framework in place.
3. CORONA UPDATE
a) NSSO compensation scheme
In order to alleviate the financial consequences of the corona crisis, a compensation scheme was introduced for certain employers who were active in the 3rd quarter of 2020. Employers who were declared bankrupt or whose NSSO number was cancelled before 1 October 2020 are not eligible.
The NSSO published a list of categories of employers and NACE codes of employers entitled to the compensation. The employer can check for himself whether he is eligible for the compensation via a tool (https://www.checkrszcompensatie.be/compensation). If, according to the online check, the employer does not qualify for the premium, but still believes he is entitled to compensation, he can notify the NSSO via the online form. This form will be offered to the employer in the event of a negative online check.
The beneficiary employers receive an allowance that corresponds to the net basic employer contributions due and the employer solidarity contribution for students due for the 3rd quarter of 2020.
The calculation of the premium consists of two steps. The NSSO calculates a provisional premium on the basis of the declarations of the 1st quarter 2020. In the course of November 2020 the NSSO calculated the provisional premium and automatically paid it into the NSSO account of the employer. The NSSO notifies the employer of the amount via the e-Box Enterprise.
As soon as the declarations of the 3rd quarter are received, the final premium is calculated. The NSSO will compare the contribution for the 3rd quarter with the amount of the provisional premium. If the contribution for the 3rd quarter is lower than the provisional premium, the employer will retain the provisional premium. If the amount is higher than the provisional premium, the difference will be allocated to the employer at the beginning of 2021.
b) Special ‘corona’ repayment plan
Due to the corona crisis, a special ‘corona’ repayment plan was made possible for the contribution of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter of 2020 and for the settlement of the holiday pay 2019.
The NSSO can thus grant instalments for a maximum period of 24 months.
Within the framework of this special amicable ‘corona’ repayment plan, in principle no contribution surcharges, lump-sum reimbursements and/or interest for delay will be charged. The employer can submit the application via the portal of the NSSO.
c) Assimilation of temporary unemployment corona for holiday rights
The days of temporary unemployment due to ‘corona’ force majeure were assimilated to effective working days regarding the right to annual leave for the period from 1 February to 31 August 2020.
It was announced that the days of temporary unemployment due to ‘corona’ force majeure in the period from 1 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 will also be assimilated to days worked for the purpose of determining the number of days of leave and holiday pay in 2021.
In order to offset the employer’s costs resulting from this assimilation, a financial compensation for employers will be provided. For the blue-collar workers, there will be a budget for the holiday funds. For the white-collar workers, employers will receive a direct compensation.
However, this has yet to be put into official regulation.
d) Modified quarantine obligation in Belgium as from 18 December 2020
As from 18 December, persons travelling to Belgium after a stay of more than 48 hours in a red zone abroad will be required to go in quarantine for 10 days and to be tested for Covid-19 after 7 days. Those who test negative on day 7 will no longer have to be in quarantine.
Since mid-October, persons returning from a red zone were no longer required to automatically go into quarantine. Instead, a self-assessment had to be completed on the Passenger Locator Form to assess whether or not someone should go into quarantine.
As from 18 December, the Passenger Locator Form still needs to be completed for stays of more than 48 hours, but the self-assessment is no longer required.
The relevant legal text has not yet been published and the exceptions to the stricter quarantine obligation are still being examined. The Belgian employers’ organisations are already lobbying for an exception to the rule for professional travel.
Of course, as soon as we have a definitive answer on this, we will inform you further.
e) Update – teleworking cross-border context
We have already informed you about the impact of teleworking on the tax and social security position of employees who are employed across borders.
As we already mentioned, the Belgian government had decided that it would not take into account the periods of teleworking on Belgian territory due to the corona crisis in its assessment of the applicable social security regime, with effect from 13 March 2020. This measure has now been extended until 30 June 2021. Please note that the date can be revised in function of the corona measures.
The agreements previously concluded by the Belgian tax authorities with the tax authorities of our neighbouring countries Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands and Germany have also been extended until 31 March 2021. Consequently, until 31 March 2021, teleworking days due to the corona crisis will be considered by the tax authorities as days worked in the country of normal employment.
4. BIRTH LEAVE FATHER OR CO-PARENT INCREASED TO 15 DAYS
As from 1 January 2021, the birth leave will be increased from 10 to 15 days.
A father or co-parent will therefore be entitled to 15 days of birth leave, provided the child was born on or after 1 January 2021. From 2023 onwards, the birth leave will be increased to 20 days.
During the first 3 days of the birth leave, employees will keep their salary, after which they will be entitled to a benefit.
We are still waiting for the official publication of this regulation in the Belgian Official Gazette.
5. CO2 REFERENCE VALUES FOR COMPANY CAR
The CO2 reference values for the calculation of the benefit in kind for company cars for 2021 are known. The values will decrease, so that the benefit in kind will increase in 2021.
For 2021, the CO2 reference value will decrease from 111 grams to 102 grams for petrol cars and from 91 grams to 84 grams for diesel cars.