A bonus plan for non-recurring result linked benefits can still be implemented after the start of the underlying reference period, but only if 1/3rd of the reference period has not yet passed. So if you're considering implementing a system of non-recurring result linked benefits with a 2022 reference period, remember to do so before the end of April!
Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 90 - a short recap
The system of non-recurring result linked benefits was introduced by Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) no. 90 and allows employers to grant their workers tax-friendly bonuses based on the achievement of collective objectives during a certain reference period.
If a system of non-recurring result linked benefits is introduced in the company and the conditions set down in CBA no. 90 are met, the amounts paid out in this respect are not subject to regular social security contributions provided that the maximum amount of EUR 3,558/year per employee (figure for 2022) is not exceeded. If this threshold is observed, a specific employee solidarity contribution of 13.07% and an employer solidarity contribution of 33% is applicable, however. For income tax purposes, the amounts paid out are exempt up to a maximum of EUR 3,094/year per employee (figure for 2022).
Introducing a new bonus plan
A system of non-recurring result linked benefits must be laid down in a bonus plan. This bonus plan has to be formalised by means of either a company-level CBA - in companies with a union delegation - or an act of accession (in companies without a union delegation). For this CBA and act of accession, mandatory templates are in place, which were adjusted recently. For an overview of these changes, we refer to our newsletter on this topic.
The CBA or act of accession has to be filed with the registry of the Collective Labour Relations Directorate General of the Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) in charge of Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue. When introducing a bonus plan by means of an act of accession, the FPS’ dedicated online platform can be used (www.bonusplannen.be / www.plansbonus.be).
A CBA no. 90 bonus plan can be introduced for the company as a whole or for a certain (objectively and non-discriminatorily defined) category of workers. The objectives must be collective in nature and must be clearly defined. They may be financial (e.g. profit, turnover) or non-financial (reduction of complaints, optimisation of a production process, ecological objectives). Objectives for which it’s manifestly certain that they’ll be met at the time the bonus plan is introduced, are also explicitly ruled out. Objectives that are aimed at reducing the number of industrial accidents or absences in the company are only allowed if the company has a global prevention and action plan in this respect.
The bonus plan must also contain a defined reference period during which the objectives must be achieved. This reference period can e.g. coincide with a calendar year, but can also be as short as 3 months. As such, it’s feasible to introduce a short-term CBA no. 90 bonus plan with crisis-specific collective objectives, specifically as incentive for employees in these challenging times.
A CAO no. 90 bonus plan can even be introduced retroactively, as long as 1/3rd of the reference period has not yet passed.
Deadline for submitting bonus plans with 2022 as reference period
As mentioned above, a non-recurring result linked bonus plan can still be implemented after the plan’s reference period has already started, but only provided that 1/3rd of the reference period has not yet passed. As such, bonus plans with calendar year 2022 as reference period have to be implemented on 30 April 2022 at the latest. This means that the filing of the CBA or act of accession with the registry of the Collective Labour Relations Directorate General (see above) has to be done on that date at the latest.