New salary increases in Joint Committee n°200
On 18 November 2021, the social partners within the general Joint Committee for white-collar employees (JC 200) signed a sector-level agreement regarding the implementation of the wage norm. Besides a wage increase of 0.4%, the agreement also provides for a corona premium and an increase in the commuting allowance. Employers should be aware that this recently published agreement contains strict implementation deadlines.
We answer below the most important questions regarding this sector-level agreement.
Which salary increases does this sector-level agreement provide for?
First, the agreement implements the wage norm of 0.4%. To achieve this maximum increase of 0.4%, Joint Committee 200 has provided that the actual monthly gross wages and the sector-level minimum wages will be increased by 0.4% as from 1 December 2021.
This wage increase in the actual monthly gross wages does not apply for companies that grant/have granted any other equivalent wage increase (i.e. other than wage increases at the company level based on professional experience and/or length of service) within the period 2021-2022 or that provide for another equivalent benefit. This latter option (i.e. providing for an equivalent benefit) is subject to strict formalities (see below).
In addition, the sector-level agreement provides for:
- A one-time corona premium of 125 or 250 EUR that will be paid out in consumption vouchers if the company made a profit in 2019 and 2020;
- An increase in the current commuting allowances.
Are companies obliged to provide a corona premium?
Companies must grant their employees a one-time corona premium if:
- The company made a profit in the calendar years 2019 and 2020 (Ebit code 9901); and
- The company’s turnover (code 70) (or gross margin (code 9900) if the turnover is not available) increased by at least 5% in 2020 (compared to 2019).
If the turnover (or gross margin, if the turnover is not available) increased by at least 5%, then the corona premium will amount to 125 EUR.
If the turnover (or gross margin, if the turnover is not available) increased by at least 10%, then the corona premium will amount to 250 EUR.
This corona premium will be paid to the employees that are in the company’s service on 30 November 2021, prorated for their performances between 1 December 2020 and 30 November 2021. For part-time employees, a pro rata amount based on their employment rate on 30 November 2021 will apply.
This corona premium should be granted to the employees on 31 December 2021 at the latest. Therefore, so the payroll agencies can arrange for a prompt pay-out of the corona premiums, it is recommended that employers provide their payroll agency with all the necessary information in this regard by 1 December 2021 at the latest.
Moreover, the employer must send a written communication to the trade union delegation or, failing that, to the employees concerning the allocation of the corona premium by 15 December 2021 at the latest.
How will the commuting allowance be increased?
As from 1 July 2022, any employee who regularly commutes by bicycle will receive an allowance of 20 cents per km actually travelled, with a maximum of EUR 8 (i.e. max. 40 km to and from work) per working day.
The modalities are to be determined at the company level and the compensation cannot be combined with other allowances linked to home-work travel, with the exception of the public transport allowance.
As from 1 January 2022, the amount of the annual gross limit for the private transport allowance will be increased from EUR 27,750 EUR to EUR 29,680.
The increase above has been provided to make up for indexations that have not applied in recent years.
Can a company agreement be concluded that provides for other arrangements?
Companies with a trade union delegation can grant an equivalent benefit (e.g. by increasing the amount of the meal vouchers) instead of making the 0.4% increase in the actual gross monthly wages. If companies would like to provide such an equivalent benefit, then they must do so by concluding a company agreement by 30 November 2021 at the latest. In companies without a trade union delegation, the employer must inform each employee in writing about the application of the equivalent benefit by 30 November 2021 at the latest.
Employers can also decide to grant a corona premium for a higher amount (up to a total maximum amount of EUR 500 for it not to be regarded as salary for social security and tax purposes), by including this in a company-CBA (or in the absence of a trade union delegation within an individual agreement with the employees).
Does the sector-level agreement provide for any other additional provisions?
Yes, the sector-level agreement provides for additional provisions regarding different topics such as the unemployment scheme with company allowance, the end-of-year premium, supplementary pension, time-credit, home-work, etc. As these provisions are not directly related to a salary increase, they fall outside the scope of this article.
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