BELGIUM: Annual Update – Expected labour law changes in 2016

Meal vouchers

No more paper meal vouchers: In Belgium meal vouchers are an alternative form of remuneration for employees. They are exempt from social security contributions provided certain conditions are met.
From January 1, 2016, paper meal vouchers will no longer be issued. They will be replaced with electronic meal vouchers, which make use of an electronic payment card (similar to a bankcard).
The maximum face value of the electronic voucher will be increased from €7 to €8 for each working day. There is no obligation to provide the vouchers at this increased rate, but if they are, the maximum employer contribution will also need to be increased from €5.91 to €6.91.
Action required:
(1) Provide an electronic card to the employees.
(2) Decide whether the company would like to increase the meal voucher value.
(3) Review and amend any policies or existing contract provisions that deal with meal vouchers. Also check that the company collective bargaining agreement is compliant.

Outplacement service provision

Obligation to provide outplacement services: Employers only needed to provide outplacement services to employees if they were dismissed after the age of 45. This will change on January 1, 2016. Under the new regime, dismissed employees must have access to outplacement services as soon as they become entitled to 30 weeks’ notice, regardless of their age. There are exceptions for gross misconduct and restructuring situations.
When the employee is dismissed and paid in lieu of notice, the outplacement benefit must be valued at one-twelfth of the employee’s annual salary. The value cannot be lower than €1,800 or higher than €5,500. Whether or not the employee accepts outplacement, four weeks’ pay can be deducted from the payment in lieu.
Action required:
(1) Update current practices on the provision of outplacement services, and amend any policies on this (if applicable).
(2) Ensure payroll is aware of the four week salary deduction.