• What does 2022 have
    in store for employers?

What does 2022 have in store for employers?

01 February 2022

Update 10.02.2022

A new year is beginning and with it a series of new measures affecting employers and their staff. The most important changes are summarised below.

Capping the reduction of social security contributions ‘first hire’

Since 1 January 2016, employers have enjoyed a full exemption from employers' contributions for (basic) social security purposes when hiring their first employee, and this for an indefinite period.

From 1 January 2022, the exemption will be limited to EUR 4,000 per quarter. However, it will always be unlimited in time. There is no transition period. So on 1 January 2022, the current reductions (first hire before 2022) are also converted.

 

Employer's quarterly accountability contribution

A quarterly ‘accountability contribution’ (trimestriële responsabiliseringsbijdrage/cotisation trimestrielle de responsabilisation) is introduced for employers with more than 50 employees and an excess of employees in invalidity.

‘Excessive inflow’ is determined by the ratio of disability bookings in the enterprise during the past year compared to enterprises in the same sector of activity and to all enterprises in the private sector.

The quarterly accountability contribution amounts to 0.625% of the company's contributory wages. The remunerations to be taken into account are those declared in the quarter preceding the quarter in which the excessive inflow of disabled workers was observed.

 

Equalisation of temporary lay-off days: financial compensation for employers

Temporary unemployment days due to force majeure caused by the corona virus for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2021 and/or due to the floods in July 2021 shall be regarded as working time to calculate the annual leave for 2022.

These employer costs are partly compensated by government intervention.

For unemployment due to force majeure caused by the coronavirus, only employers who have recorded an average unemployment rate for their employees due to force majeure caused by the coronavirus of at least 41% in the first and/or second quarter of 2021 are entitled to compensation.

For temporary unemployment due to force majeure caused by flooding, there is no minimum rate: one day of temporary unemployment of a worker already entitles him/her to compensation.

This intervention is calculated and implemented by the NSSO by means of a reduction in the employer social security contributions in the second quarter of 2022.

Note: if the force majeure is related to flooding, the employer must submit an online application to the NSSO. The compensation is therefore not granted automatically.

 

Expansion of the corona support measures

As businesses continue to be affected by the pandemic, existing support measures have been extended, mostly to 31 March 2022. New measures have also been taken, such as the extension of vaccination leave to accompany a minor child. For more details, see our publication 'Corona Business Support Measures’, which is continuously updated.

 

Adjustment of the amounts of non-recurring bonuses

The maximum amounts that employers can grant to their employees in 2022 within the framework of a CLA 90 bonus plan have been made public. To qualify for the exemption from ordinary social security contributions and withholding tax, the non-recurring bonus granted in this context may not exceed EUR 3,558 as regards the ordinary social contributions. The fiscal maximum is EUR 3,094.

 

Revision of the amount of home office expenses

The amount of the lump-sum allowance that an employer may grant to an employee who performs part of his duties by means of teleworking is adjusted in line with the evolution of the index. As of 1 February 2022, the maximum allowed amount is set at EUR 134.71/month (EUR 132.07/month for 1.10.2021-31.01.2022).

 

Increase of benefit in kind of company car

To determine the amount of the benefit in kind arising from the private use of a company car, account shall be taken in particular of the type of fuel used, the CO2 emissions, which shall be compared to a CO2 emission reference, and the gross list price of the vehicle. The CO2 emission reference varies from year to year. For the income year 2022, it has been set at 91 g/km for a petrol, LPG or natural gas vehicle (102 g/km for 2021), and at 75 g/km for a diesel vehicle (84 g/km for 2021), which in many cases significantly increases the amount of the benefit in kind.

 

Expansion of the mobility budget

As a reminder, the 'mobility budget' is an amount that the employee receives from the employer as compensation when he or she gives up the company car he or she had or was entitled to and can invest in other, more environmentally friendly mobility solutions spread across three pillars:

  1. Another electric or environmentally friendly car (CO2 95gr/km )
  2. Sustainable means of transport and/or accommodation costs
  3. a payment in cash.

To date, the mobility allowance has had little success. The government wants to remedy this by making changes to the scheme from 1 January 2022:

  • Abolition of the waiting periods previously imposed on employees before they could qualify for the mobility budget. It will therefore be sufficient that the employee is entitled to a company car in order to qualify for the mobility budget. The waiting period for the employer is maintained.
  • Clarification of the calculation of the budget. The annual amount granted is now a minimum of EUR 3,000 and a maximum of 1/5 of the total gross annual salary, without exceeding the amount of EUR 16,000 per calendar year.
  • Obligation for the employer to make at least one offer in pillar 2. Until now, the employer was not obliged to offer each of the 3 pillars.
  • Expanding the investment possibilities of this budget in pillar 2, which relates to 'sustainable modes of transport'. For example:
    • taking into account of parking costs in connection with the use of public transport
    • taking into account public transport subscriptions for the employee’s family members’ commuting
    • extending the distance between home and work to 10 km (instead of 5 km) in order to take into account capital repayments and interest on mortgage loans for the use of the mobility budget.

 

Reform of the special tax regime for foreign executives

The year 2022 marks the end of the special regime for foreign executives (and researchers) as it has been known since the tax circular of 8 August 1983. As of 1 January 2022, the regime will be replaced by a new legal regulation called the 'Special tax regime for incoming taxpayers and researchers'.

There are a number of notable changes, including the abolition of the 'travel exclusion', access to the new scheme for Belgian companies that are not part of an international group and for Belgian nationals (under certain conditions), the increase of the indemnity that can be granted in the form of a lump sum reimbursement of costs proper to the employer, etc.

Moreover, the NSSO accepts that the real and fixed costs that are reimbursed tax-free under the new scheme are also exempt of social security contributions. 

A transitional arrangement is provided for taxpayers falling under the former special regime for foreign executives.

 

New reporting obligation for copyrights

In addition to the now familiar pay slips and other individual tax sheets, there is a form 281.45 on which debtors of withholding tax must indicate the amounts they have paid in copyrights and neighbouring rights. A very favourable tax regime applies to these royalties.

However, this obligation to draw up individual tax sheets (and summary statements) for copyrights and neighbouring rights had no legal basis. This is now a thing of the past, as the tax provisions have been adjusted accordingly for income paid or granted in respect of copyright or related rights as of 1 January 2021.

The legal basis for the obligation to keep records for copyright and neighbouring rights means that, if the records are not substantiated, the remuneration paid is not tax deductible as a professional expense (for income tax purposes) and is subject to the assessment of secret commissions (for corporate tax purposes) or to an equivalent special levy (for legal entities tax purposes).

 

New reporting obligations for variable cost reimbursements

Until now, allowances paid to staff members as the reimbursement for actual expenses incurred by the employer (on an actual or a lump-sum basis) had to be shown on individual tax sheets, but the amount of the reimbursement did not have to be shown where the lump-sum reimbursement was determined on the basis of serious and consistent criteria or on the basis of supporting documents. It was then sufficient to confirm with a 'yes' that such allowances had indeed been granted. From now on, the obligation to draw up an individual tax sheet will be extended to the variable cost allowances of the employer (or the company, in the case of a company director). Failure to comply with this obligation will be punished by an administrative fine.

Please note that these are allowances paid on the basis of supporting documents that are not always included in the payroll and are therefore not known to the payroll offices.  An adjustment of the working methods of many employers will therefore be necessary. However, employers are given some time to adjust their internal processes, as this new obligation will only apply to allowances from 1 January 2022.

 

Contact

BDO can help you in case of questions. Do not hesitate to contact our experts in social law.