Belgium is a 'paradise' for alternative forms of remuneration

Due to the high labour costs, Belgium is a paradise for alternative forms of remuneration. This is what De Standaard writes on Tuesday, based on the new report of the National Social Security Office (NSSO). While men more often get a company car, women receive more mileage allowance.

Every year, the National Social Security Office (NSSO) makes an overview of alternative forms of remuneration. It concerns alternatives that are treated more favourably than cash wages from a fiscal and social point of view. The NSSO calculated that the private sector has paid out around ten billion euros in alternative wages in 2020. To arrive at this result, the NSSO, in cooperation with SD Worx, extrapolated the wage data of 600,000 private sector employees.

Private sector

About 80 percent of employees in the private sector in Belgium can count on the employer's contribution for a supplementary pension. Some 70 percent receive meal vouchers and 52 percent eco vouchers. Four per cent of private sector employees can also count on stock options, worth 1.26 billion euros, making it the third most important benefit.

Less than 0.1 percent of employees use the mobility budget as an alternative to the company car, which remains popular. About one in five employees also drive it privately. The number of employees driving a company car has increased slightly. In 2018, it was only 17.15 percent, while in 2020 it was 20.22 percent. Cycling is also gaining in popularity, while employees who receive compensation for public transport have fallen sharply since 2018, from 7.92 percent to 4.64 percent.

Gender differences

The difference in alternative forms of remuneration between men and women is also striking. While 28 percent of male employees receive a company car, this is only 15 percent of women. Women more often receive a mileage or bicycle allowance, or are paid for their journeys by public transport. Another striking difference is that far fewer women than men receive a wage bonus.

The NSSO points out in its report that the differences are not necessarily the result of gender discrimination. "Individual preferences, working part-time or full-time, but also the position women occupy, are factors that can play a role in explaining the gender pay gap", the report mentions.

Besides gender, there are many other factors that determine how likely an employee is to receive a certain wage benefit. Those who already have a higher wage will receive more benefits. The amount associated with that benefit also increases with the wage.

"Many organisations work with a formal pay grading system. This is often strongly linked to the alternative forms of remuneration for which an employee is eligible", concludes the NSSO.

For the NSSO, the system remains the most important predictor of most alternative forms of remuneration.

Other determining factors are the sector, the size of the company, the age and the status of the employee. It is striking that company cars are most often awarded to employees between 30 and 50 years of age and that blue-collar workers almost never qualify for a company car. In general, employees are less eligible for alternative forms of remuneration.


© AFP PHOTO Martin Bertrand / Hans Lucas

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