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Bonuses in corona times: surprisingly popular

23 December 2021 Karolien Van Herpe Employers

The corona year 2020 rocked the foundations of the economy. Yet the economic malaise has not prevented companies from paying bonuses to their employees. In 2021, a quarter of the white-collar employees received a bonus. Moreover, the average bonus amount is unprecedentedly high, at just over EUR 5300. Surprising? It is, because the bonuses paid out in 2021 are based on the business results and/or the performance of employees in the corona year 2020.

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The strength of people in difficult times

Despite the corona pandemic, many companies were able to meet their targets in 2020. The non-recurring bonus, a collective reward for employees who manage to achieve collective targets, was awarded the most in 2021. Although this bonus is the most popular - also because it is the most beneficial for tax purposes - it is on the decline. Both the number of white-collar workers receiving one (12.7%) and the average amount granted (€1227) decreased compared to last year.

The individual bonus, on the other hand, is on the rise. Employers have chosen to reward employees more for their personal efforts during the difficult times. In 2021, 6.3% of the white-collar workers received a cash bonus, which is almost four times more than in the previous year. The warrants were also granted to more employees: 6.5% received these stock options, which is an increase of 4% compared to the previous year. The average amount of these individual bonuses also increased: +40.5% for the cash bonus and +2% for the warrants.

Administration vs tax benefits

Each bonus has specific benefits and conditions that you should check thoroughly before making a choice.

The non-recurring bonus, which was also the most frequently paid this year, is the most beneficial for tax purposes. Of a bonus that costs the employer EUR 1,000, the employee retains an average of EUR 653. Your employees must achieve collective goals that are clearly measurable and verifiable in order to receive this bonus. These objectives must be laid down in a collective agreement well in advance, and must comply with certainmodels and formalities. The administration involved in this bonus is somewhat heavier than with the cash bonus.

By the way, the profit bonus can be a nice alternative to the non-recurring bonus. This bonus can also offer fiscal benefits and there is less administration involved than with the non-recurring bonus.

The cash bonus is subject to heavy social security contributions and taxes, making a big difference between gross and net. With a cash bonus costing the employer 1,000 euros, your employee is left with an average of only 380 euros. Nevertheless, the cash bonus is popular because of its flexible conditions. Warrants are a valid alternative if you want to reward your employees (individually) for their efforts.

Rewarding and remunerating on fiscally beneficial terms?

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Karolien-Van-Herpe

Written by Karolien Van Herpe

Senior Legal Consultant Legal & Reward

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