Employers will, most likely, make sure that employees can work from home.
For employees working from home temporarily due to the Covid-19 crisis, a tax-free cost allowance can be paid in exemption from social security contributions. This allowance covers all kinds of small costs associated with home working. No specific home working agreement is required to pay it.
Please note that from a social security point of view, 2 types of home office allowance exists:
1. 129,48 EUR per month to cover the costs of heating, electricity, small office tools, ...
This fixed amount may only be granted to employees who perform part of their working time structurally and on a regular basis at home and who therefore have to furnish a space in their home where they can do that work. For employees who have a workplace with their employer, this lump sum is only accepted if their position clearly shows that they work from home on a regular basis. For employees who are subject to the legislation on working time, this fixed amount is therefore not accepted when it concerns an employee who almost exclusively works the maximum legal working time that applies to him at a workplace organized by the employer.
2. For teleworkers: 10% of the gross salary limited to the part related to telework
‘Telework’ is a form of organization and / or performance of the work in which, using information technology, work that could also be performed at the employer's business location, is performed regularly and not incidentally outside that business location in the context of an employment contract for telework. This telework is regulated by CBA nr. 85.
As a result of the Covid-19 security measures and the recommendation to the employers by the Belgian government to, as far as possible, have employees work from home, the Belgian government (NSSO) has made the allocation of the home office allowance as described under 1) above more flexible (and has increased this allowance) so that also employees that normally do not structurally and on a regular basis work from home but have to do so as a result of the Covid -19 security measure can receive this allowance, exempt of social security contributions.
In addition to this home office allowance, the employer may also reimburse in exemption from social security contributions the following costs borne by the employee up to a maximum amount of:
- Professional use on a regular basis (1 day per week, several times several hours per week, one week every month, ...) of his/her own PC: 20 euro/month
- Professional use on a regular basis (1 day per week, several times several hours per week, one week every month, ...) of his/her own internet connection: 20 euro/month.
The employer may not intervene in these PC and internet costs in any other way (e.g. by paying a part of the purchase price of the PC).
From a tax point of view, the payment of a working allowance is tax-free. An employer can conclude an advance tax ruling with the tax authorities in order to avoid discussion at the occasion a tax audit.
The ruling commission has therefore established a FAST TRACK application procedure whereby a decision can be obtained directly and under minimal conditions (formal but shortened application, temporary nature, no double use, etc.) during the period of the corona crisis.
In addition to this cost allowance, the employer may also tax-free reimburse the following costs borne by the employee up to a maximum amount of:
- Use of his/her own PC: 20 euros/month
- Use of his/her own internet connection: 20 euro/month.