Increase of purchasing power of employees for 2016 and 2017

Written by Bart Elias 9 December 2015

We hereby inform you that the industrial partners have concluded a new sectoral agreement for Joint Committee (JC) 200 for the years 2016 and 2017. This JC replaces the previous JC 218 and is applicable to your firm in Belgium.

After the index leap and the limited maximum margin for wage increase for 2014 and 2015 (see our previous communications in this respect), the new agreement provides for an increase of the purchasing power of the approximately 450,000 white-collar workers who fall within the scope of JC 200.

It concerns the grant of a yearly gross premium in an amount of EUR 250, which will be first payable in June 2016 and will be subject to indexation in 2017. The premium is to be prorated to the actual working time (or equivalent periods) during a period of 12 months preceding the payment (i.e. from June up until, and including, May).

Similarly to previous agreements on the increase of the purchasing power, this new premium may also be replaced with a benefit of equal value, although the cost for the company of such equal-value benefit may in no case exceed the wage cost of the new premium. This wage cost equals the gross amount of the new premium, increased with employer’s social security contributions.

Industries that employ white-collar workers falling within the scope of JC 200 and which provide for an additional pension arrangement for their blue-collar workers, can fully or partially replace the amount of the new premium with an equal additional pension arrangement for the white-collar workers. Such replacement, however, is subject to formalisation in a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be, concluded within JC 200 before 31 October 2015.

Note that the above new increase of purchasing power does not in any way detract from the regulations regarding eco-cheques within JC 200. The CBA detailing the attribution of eco-cheques has been concluded for an indefinite duration and, as long as this CBA is not terminated, both the eco-cheques and the new premium will have to be paid.

Please note that, in case the premium is replaced with a benefit that is exempt from social security contributions (e.g. luncheon vouchers), the NSSO has taken the position that no social security contributions are due on the condition that said conversion is implemented before 1 January 2016. As a result, it will be possible to grant a benefit of approximately EUR 330 net (i.e. EUR 250 + employer’s social security contributions) instead of EUR 250 gross.

After this date, the equal-value benefit will be considered a replacement of an existing benefit subject to social security contributions, as the CBA of 9 July 2015 will enter into force on 1 January 2016.