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Your payroll administration in Q3 – 2022

Summer is just around the corner and with it, the third quarter. What does this mean for your payroll administration? We have already listed the particulars.

1. Indexation: forewarned is forearmed …

Inflation triggers the wage indexation mechanism. On 1 July, some indexations will occur again. Take this into account when budgeting conventional wage increases (read: wage increases at company level for individual employees).

For the following sectors, the forecasts for 01/07 are as follows:

  • In the Metal sector (JC 111 and 209), an indexation of around 8% is expected;
  • In the Construction sector (JC 124) wages are indexed quarterly. On 01/07/2022 wages will increase by 2.42084%;
  • In the Supplementary Joint Committee for the White-collar workers (JC 200), wages were indexed by 3.58% on 01/01/2022. For 2023, an indexation of around 7% is expected.

2. Increase of home working allowance

Employees who regularly and structurally work from home (at least one day a week) may be granted a net fixed allowance by the employer to cover the costs associated with this home work.

This home working allowance will be increased to 140.15 EUR per month from 1 June 2022.

Please note that you must be able to justify the application of this fixed allowance. By this, we mean that you, as an employer, must be able to demonstrate that there are actual costs involved. We therefore recommend drawing up a telework policy in which the home working and its concrete modalities are recorded.

Together with the increase of the home working allowance, the possibility of granting an expense allowance of 10% of the gross salary in case of teleworking was terminated. As a result, for the granting of new allowances, only the aforementioned fixed allowance for office expenses is still possible. Employers who already applied the 10% rule before 1 June 2022 can continue to do so under specific conditions.

3. Providing transport for your employee: a bottomless pit?

In many companies, it is common to provide employees with a company car with fuel card. When these can also be used for private purposes, they are considered a wage benefit.

The specific agreements on these wage benefits are usually laid down in an employment agreement, a car policy or the work regulations.

Given the continuous rise in fuel prices, the question can be asked whether the employer can impose restrictions on this expenditure.

Unfortunately, in many cases the answer will be ‘NO’. These wage benefits are an essential condition of the employment agreement, which means that they may not be changed unilaterally by the employer. If the employer were to do so anyway, he risks implicit dismissal and having to pay severance pay.

Of course, it is always advisable to limit these wage benefits from the very beginning of the cooperation. For example, the employer can limit the use of the fuel card and the company car in the employment agreement to a certain amount or a certain number of kilometres.

However, if the employer did not foresee such restrictions from the beginning, it will be very difficult to impose them. Depending on the case, this will require the agreement of the individual employee or the employee’s representation.

Employees who do not have a company car and a fuel card, might wonder whether their commuting allowance will be increased. This allowance is a matter that is regulated by the sectoral provisions. Although in time, adjustments will also be made in this regard, no increases are currently foreseen in the short term.

4. End of the simple procedure for temporary unemployment

Because of the corona pandemic, companies were able to use the system of temporary unemployment without many formalities. From 1 July 2022 onwards, this will come to an end. Some relaxations will remain for companies that suffer (or have suffered) from the pandemic, as well as for companies that have less work because of the war in Ukraine.

In principle, all normal formalities for the implementation of temporary unemployment due to economic reasons must be respected again (difference blue-collar workers – white-collar workers).For the implementation of temporary unemployment due to force majeure the strict definition of force majeure must be met again. The latter mainly means that the execution of the employment agreement must be completely impossible due to a sudden and unforeseeable event.

Temporary unemployment due to force majeure continues to exist if the employee, who is not unfit for work, has to remain in quarantine or isolation due to an infection with the coronavirus and cannot telework. Also if the employee’s child cannot go to school, day care or care centre for the disabled because of the infection, the possibility of temporary unemployment due to force majeure continues to exist in the context of the coronavirus. However, many of the administrative obligations involved will be reintroduced.

Amongst others the following  relaxations apply (for the time being):

  • Those who are temporarily unemployed due to economic reasons are admitted to the right to unemployment benefits without first having to prove a number of days of employment for a certain period of time. This is already the case for the other forms of temporary unemployment;
  • A C3.2A control card is exempted until the end of this year;
  • Until the end of this year, the proof of a company in difficulty is simplified.

5. Working from home across the border after Corona: end of temporary tolerances or not …?

With corona, working from home has become an integral part of our work pattern. However, in the case of cross-border employment, working from home can have an impact on the employee’s social security system.

The physical presence of the worker in the territory of a member state is decisive in determining the applicable social security system. Working more from home can therefore cause a change. The European regulation states that an employee is socially insured in his country of residence if he performs at least 25% of his working time there.

Due to the corona crisis, the Belgian government decided not to take into account periods of teleworking on Belgian territory from 13 March 2020 to 30 June 2022 when determining the applicable social security system. The same position was taken by the tax authorities and neighbouring countries the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg.

On 30 June 2022, this period of temporary tolerance ends. If the work pattern does not ‘normalise’ after this date and the employee continues to work structurally and substantially from home, as of 1 July 2022 the applicable social security system and/or the country that will levy taxes may shift.

Very recently, there were reports that the temporary tolerance for cross-border workers in the context of social security would be extended once again until 31 December 2022. However, this has not yet been officially confirmed. There is also no clarity as to whether the tax authorities will follow… We will keep you informed.

6. Loss of holidays in case of illness during holidays

In the past, Belgium has been ruled against several times by the European Court of Justice for its holiday legislation. Under Belgian law, it is still not possible to carry over holidays to the next holiday year, also illness during the holidays has no impact on the number of days of leave.

This is now about to change… The Belgian government has been urged to amend its holiday legislation so that an employee who falls ill during a planned holiday does not lose his holiday, but can take it at a later date. In addition, it will be possible to take the balance of untaken holidays after the end of the holiday year. The concrete conditions still need to be worked out.

We expect the changes to the holiday legislation to take effect no later than 1 January 2023.

7. No more “gratuitous” long-term sickness?

 In principle, an employer only has to bear costs for 30 days for a sick employee. After that, the employee falls back on the health insurance fund and receives an allowance. As a result, many long-term sick people remain on the payroll for years.

Since May 2022, the federal government has proposed more concrete actions in the “back to work plan”, with the aim of getting more long-term sick people back into active employment in our labour market. The advisory doctor of the health insurance fund or the employee himself can initiate such a back to work project. A “back to work coordinator” of the health insurance fund will then help the employee to find the right guidance for his or her return to the labour market, possibly by following training, adapting the work or looking for another job. The main measures of this process are the following:

  • Employees can (temporarily) lose up to 5% of their income if they do not fulfil their obligations;
  • Employers may have to pay an additional annual NSSO contribution if a large number of employees are sick for more than one year;
  • In order to reintegrate the long-term sick people more quickly, other provisions will also be implemented, including the abolition of the minimum working time limit in the context of progressive return to work.

The measures will enter into force on 1 January 2023, but will relate to the figures for 2022. As of autumn 2022, the NSSO will issue warnings to companies that risk having to pay the additional NSSO contribution.

8. Announced social inspections in the hospitality industry

In July, the hospitality industry (JC 302) will be subjected to announced inspections performed by the social inspectorate.

During this inspection, the correct application of the social legislation will be checked, including: pay slips, employment contracts, work regulations, expense allowances, wage payment proofs, illegal employment (DIMONA, LIMOSA, residence permit, …), false self-employment or false employment, false or irregular posting, forbidden provision of staff, …

In order to pass such inspections quickly, a good preparation is essential. You can do this by getting all relevant documents and supporting documents ready in advance.

Note: this announced inspection runs alongside other possible – announced or unannounced – inspections from the various inspection services.

Feel free to contact us for guidance and information.

Publication: 29/06/2022

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