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Reimbursement of transport costs

Principle

Commuting allowances are granted by the employer to its staff on the basis of:

  • A legal obligation
  • A collective agreement (CAO)
  • A company agreement
  • A voluntary agreement

The employer is obliged to contribute to the travel expenses of employees who use public transport (train, tram, bus, metro) to commute to work.

Several sectors have their own provisions regarding the intervention of the employer in the commuting expenses, such as an extension or even a complete reimbursement of the travel expenses.

You should therefore always consult the sector agreements to find out which provisions apply.

Reimbursements per means of transport

Reimbursement of public transport: the train

There is no minimum distance, so reimbursement starts from 1 km.

If there are no sector or company agreements, the NAR collective labour agreement (CLA) No 19 octies governs the employer's reimbursement. This is set at 75% of the train ticket price on average. It is calculated on the basis of a table of flat-rate amounts and on the basis of the distance travelled expressed in kilometres.

However, a sectoral or company agreement may provide for the employee to be reimbursed a certain percentage of the season ticket actually paid. This will usually be more favourable to the worker.

Reimbursement of public transport: tram, metro, bus

Since 1 July 2020, the intervention of the employer is mandatory from the first kilometer. Before, the distance covered had to be at least 5 kilometers.

If there are no sectoral or company agreements, the NAR collective agreement No 19 octies regulates the employer's intervention.

A distinction must be made:

  • The price is fixed, regardless of the distance travelled. The employer's compensation is equal to 71.8% of the price actually paid. However, this amount may be limited to the price of a train ticket for a distance of 7 km (table of flat rates).
  • The price is proportional to the distance. The compensation of the employer is limited to 75% of the price of a train ticket for a similar journey.

Here too, other rules laid down at sector or company level must be taken into account. These rules take precedence.

Reimbursement of combined public transport

If there are no sector or company agreements, the NAR collective labour agreement (CAO) No 19 octies governs the employer's reimbursement.

The calculation differs depending on whether one or more tickets are issued.

  • One ticket for the entire distance. The employer's contribution is equal to an average of 75% of the price of a train ticket (based on a table of fixed amounts). Please note: the transport ticket does not differentiate between the means of public transport used
  • Several transport tickets. The employer's reimbursement is based on the calculation for the entire distance by adding up the contributions taken separately. Note: calculation based on an average of 75% of the price of a train ticket.

Reimbursement of private transport

The employer's contribution to private transport is not compulsory and therefore not regulated by law. However, it can be regulated at sector or company level. Some sector agreements or company agreements refer to the application regulation for public transport. Other agreements provide for a contribution equal to a certain percentage of a train ticket.

Reimbursement of organized collective transport

A distinction must be made between collective transport organized by the employer and carpooling.

  • Carpooling is a form of collective transport but is organized by a group of employees. It is therefore equated with private transport.
  • Collective transport is organised by the employer. This can be fully or partially at the expense of the employer. The employer may ask the employee for a financial contribution.

Reimbursement of transport by bicycle

An allowance per kilometre may be granted for journeys by bicycle between the place of residence and the place of work. This allowance is not mandatory and is only granted for the actual use of the bicycle. The kilometer compensation is currently € 0,24 per kilometer there and back (amount in 2020).

Third-party payer scheme

The "third-party payer" scheme makes it possible for the government to cover the cost of train tickets.

The employer and the NMBS/SNCB conclude a third-party payer agreement so that the employee no longer has to pay or advance the full price of the train ticket. In some sectors, the employee does not even have to make a contribution and the costs are borne entirely by the government and the employer.

This third-party payer arrangement can also be concluded with De Lijn and the MIVB.

Professional travel with your own car

When an employee uses his own car for professional travel, he can receive a reimbursement of the costs incurred from his employer.

This reimbursement can be done in 2 ways:

  • The employee provides proof of the exact amount.
  • The employee uses a fixed amountdetermined by the government.

This fixed mileage compensation is adjusted annually on 1 July. Currently (2020) it amounts to € 0.3653 per kilometre. Please note: this only applies as long as you travel less than 24,000 kilometres per year.

Summary

It is important to always check whether there is an own agreement within the sector or the company. If not, one should make use of the NAR collective labour agreement (CAO) no. 19 octies, which applies to all blue and white collar workers.

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Heidi Vergauwe

Dedicated and meticulous Payroll & HR Advisor, always willing to go for the extra (s)mile!