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Fuel and energy prices spike: what can employers do?

18 March 2022 Ellen Van Grunderbeek Employers

Fuel and energy prices are reaching record highs that are felt by all. Are company cars and fuel cards a part of your remuneration policy? If so, these rising prices are bound to have a palpable impact, despite the federal government's announced package of measures.

Acerta answers some questions frequently asked by employers. Can you change your company car policy? What about employees who use their own cars and do a lot of service travel? What about the work-from-home allowance that covers energy costs?

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Can I change my company car policy?

If you make a company car and/or fuel card available to your employees, then several avenues are available for adapting your policy, depending on existing agreements:

  •  You can allow more limited private use;
  • You can ask for a personal contribution;
  •  You can switch to a smaller greener car;
  • You can limit the use of the fuel card.

Your guiding principle is the existing agreements that are laid down in the employment contract of your employees, in your car policy or fuel card policy, your work regulations or possibly a company collective bargaining agreement. Find out what possibilities are contained therein. Are there change clauses provided that allow you to make periodic changes? Then you can apply for this.

Note that you cannot change these agreements unilaterally. There is always a need for agreement from your employee and/or the union bodies. However, you can immediately roll out a new company car policy for employees who are new to the company.

Should I financially support employees who use their own car for commuting?

The employer's intervention in private transport is determined by the agreements at sectoral and/or company level. Most sectors link the intervention to the cost of the rail card, which was recently indexed in February. Another option is to grant a lump sum per kilometre whereby a maximum of 0.3707 euros per km can be paid.

You can increase the lump sum at company level if you do not yet grant the maximum, or you can provide a more favourable intervention. In addition, you could also focus on organized transportation or promote carpooling to your employees. This can reduce the cost of commuting to work.

Should I financially support employees who use their own vehicle for service travel?

Service transfers are costs specific to the employer. You can intervene via an NSSO and tax-free flat-rate kilometre allowance of max. 0.3707, or you can reimburse the actual costs if the employee proves them.

Can I accelerate the greening of my corporate fleet?

You can start the transition to zero-emission driving right now. The approved reduction of tax deductions for fossil fuel commercial vehicles and support for zero-emission driving are already a push in the right direction. Installing charging infrastructure on your premises is also now possible with a financial incentive from the increased cost deduction.

You can further support your employees by granting them a charge card and/or a charge installation at the employee's home.

Should I commit (even more) to soft mobility such as cycling?

Bicycles are popular: one in three employees does (at least part of) their commute by bicycle, according to our annual mobility barometer. You can opt to make company bicycles available or offer a bicycle lease - for example via KBC Bicycle Leasing- tailored to your employees' needs.  You can further support bicycling employees by providing a bicycle allowance.

Moreover, you can make soft mobility an objective in your bonus plan, so collective use of the bicycle provides a financial bonus for your staff.

Can I have my employees work from home more, and should I award a higher homework allowance because of rising energy bills?

Fewer trips reduce your costs. For example, hybrid work may allow your employee to side-step the car one or more days a week. Getting started with your structural telecommuting policy can be an answer to rising fuel costs. Doesn't your employee have a suitable place for an office at home? Then you can have a (mini) workshop/office installed in his yard (or somewhere else).

For structural and regular work from home, you can grant an exempt office allowance of $134.71 per month . These also cover utilities such as electricity and heating.

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Written by Ellen Van Grunderbeek

Legal advisor at Acerta

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