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Returning to work, what about the mobility of your employees?

08 June 2021 Ellen Van Grunderbeek Employers

As of 9 June, you are allowed to organise return dates for your employees. This way they can combine their obligatory home work with a day at the office. A relief for many employees, after all, surveys by Acerta and Stepstone has indicated that 47% of Belgians would like to return to the office for a while.

The specific rules and agreements on these return dates are not yet known. What is certain, is that these return dates can get commuting going again. Hybrid work and the (lack of) safety awareness of your employees may lead to different mobility choices than before the pandemic.  We go over (new) mobility solutions, and your obligations in relation to your contribution to your employee's commuting costs.

 

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General message

The rule remains that you only contribute on the days when the employee actually goes to work. The agreed upon expense allowances remain in force for the days that the employee works from home.

Public transportation

By train

Did your employee use public transportation before the corona pandemic, and does he/she now wish to do so again? Then you as an employer remain obliged to contribute. If your employee has a current subscription, your employer's contribution remains unchanged. If an employee takes out a new subscription, you must comply with a fixed minimum amount of this contribution (subject to sectoral agreements).

Does your employee need to renew a past subscription? Then be sure to consider the best formula as hybrid working becomes the new normal. A half-time train pass or single day tickets might be more economical.

Please note: if your employee chooses to purchase individual day tickets, you will also have to pay a contribution to the purchase price. If your sector imposes an obligatory third-party payer scheme, you must continue to apply it in situations involving hybrid work. Be sure to check what agreements have been made about this within your sector or company.

Flexible SNCB season tickets

SNCB has announced a flexible subscription formula that will allow either:

  • 80 or 120 days of  travel to and from work within a 12-month period
  • or 6 or 10 days per month to travel to and from work

This formula is possible between two fixed stations. Moreover, your employees are not bound to predetermined days, they can choose freely.

In 2021, the formula will be tested through a pilot project to be rolled out globally in 2022. There is no official position yet on how the employer contribution for this formula will be determined. We expect that the half-time train ticket scheme will be available for use in the meantime.

By bus, tram and metro

Because of the new way of working, your employees can/will also make other choices for bus, tram or metro. As before, you will also have to pay an employer's contribution, which can vary depending on the chosen mobility formula. If the preference is to buy individual day tickets, you will have to pay an employer's contribution, as is the case with the train.  Be sure to check out the agreements at sector and company level, these can be more advantageous.

Bicycle

A corona-safe alternative is offered by the (electric) bicycle. You can then contribute to your employee up to a maximum of 0.24 euros per (exempted) kilometre. Now that your employees are required to come to work sporadically, the number of days may deviate - without consequence - from the required number of days to receive reimbursement in your cycling policy. Agreements in your sector or company may impose this or another mandatory bicycle allowance, or you can of course contribute voluntarily.

Own car

If your employee come to work in his own car, you may be required by a sector or company collective bargaining agreement to provide them with a relocation allowance. If this does not exist, you are not obliged to do so.

If a few employees choose to carpool - respecting social distancing - you owe them an individual travel allowance. If there is already an arrangement for organised communal transport, the compensation provided for in that arrangement shall apply.

Mobility budget

If you offer a mobility budget, your employees who have a company car, or are eligible for one, can trade in their company car for another mobility mode that fits in with hybrid working. Think for example of a smaller company car in combination with a bicycle lease. If your employee receives a new annual amount, he/she can freely apply this budget, and also make an adjusted choice.

Automate the registration of homework days with the Employee Self Service tool

With the Employee Self Service tool, your employees register which days they work at home themselves. You can see at a glance for which days they receive a mobility allowance.

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Written by Ellen Van Grunderbeek

Legal advisor at Acerta

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