If we can believe Wikipedia, meal vouchers are “vouchers which employees in Belgium may receive monthly as a non-statutory part of their remuneration”. But what are these vouchers exactly? What is their value? And is every employee entitled to them? Here are the facts.
What are meal vouchers?
In principle, meal vouchers are a means of payment for meals or food. However, in many cases shops will also accept them for other things that have to do with nutrition in general.
We can therefore look at meal vouchers as a little bit of extra salary, something you get as compensation for your work. The big difference from your normal pay is that meal vouchers are exempt from social insurance contributions and tax, under strict conditions.
Is everyone entitled to meal vouchers?
The answer to that question is, unfortunately: no. Whether you are entitled to meal vouchers depends on the collective labour agreement (CLA) that is defined for your employer or industry.
Who or what determines the value of your meal vouchers?
The value of your meal vouchers is also specified in the CLA that applies to your employer. Your employer pays a maximum of 6.91 euros per meal voucher, but you as an employee also have to make a contribution of at least 1.09 euros. Fortunately, you don't have to do anything about it. Your personal contribution is deducted from your net salary on your payslip.
Where can I use my meal vouchers and what can I buy with them?
Your meal vouchers, which are valid for twelve months from the time when they are credited to your account, can only be used to pay for a meal or to purchase ready-to-use food.
Retailers are not obliged to accept meal vouchers as a means of payment, but most supermarkets do. There is often a sticker in their shop window, but you can also find out beforehand on the issuing company’s website or app. You’ll find a list of affiliated retailers there.
How many meal vouchers do I get?
As an employee, you’re entitled to one voucher per working day on which you actually work. That means you don't get meal vouchers during holidays, on public holidays or days when you are absent due to sickness, leave of absence or temporary unemployment. If you only take half a day’s leave, you are entitled to a meal voucher for that day.