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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case BE-2020-12/459 Updated – measures in Belgium

Extension of meal/eco/gift/sport/culture cheques

Uitbreiding geldigheidsduur van maaltijd/eco/geschenk/sport en culuurcheques

Country Belgium , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 18 March 2020 – 31 December 2020
Type Non-binding recommendations or other texts
Category Measures to prevent social hardship
– Provision of services in kind (e.g. food vouchers)
Author Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound
Case created 10 April 2020 (updated 17 July 2020)

Background information

Benefits like meal/culture/eco/sports and culture cheques are quite common forms of fringe benefits in Belgium.

The COVID-19 crisis makes it more difficult to pay with cheques, especially eco-cheques (which can be used to buy a wide range of eco-friendly products or services). This is the reason why the social partners are asking for an extension of the validity period of the cheques in a joint national labour council advice. The government is expected to follow this advice.

Content of measure

For meal, eco and gift vouchers, which expire in March, April, May and June 2020, it is necessary that an immediate extension of 6 months is provided from the date of expiry of such vouchers. For the sports/culture vouchers: request to postpone the expiry date of the sports/culture vouchers from 30 September to 31 December 2020.

There is no limit per person to the amount of cheques that can be be extended. Following the advice of the national labour council the extension should happen automatically.

Finally, the cheque publishers commit themselves to a fast and effective information campaign.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

30 May 2020

The advice by the social partners was followed and the extension implemented.

  • For lunch vouchers, eco vouchers and gift vouchers that are due to expire in the months of March to June 2020, the validity period shall be extended by six months from the due date of the vouchers in question.
  • For sports and culture vouchers, which have a fixed expiry date of 30 September, the period of validity shall be extended until 31 December 2020.

Use of measure

It is unclear how many cheques are currently in circulation that are about to expire. Given the fact that these types of benefits are very common in a wide range of sectors, the amount is probably significant.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Unemployed
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social partners jointly
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

The advice was formulated within the National Labour Council, an important national bipartite social dialogue body.

Views and reactions

The advice was formulated within the National Labour Council, an important national bipartite social dialogue body.

Sources

  • 08 April 2020: Advies Nationale Arbeidsraad nummer 2.161 (www.cnt-nar.be)
  • 30 May 2020: Corona: verlenging geldigheidsduur van onder meer maaltijdcheques is een fei (www.sd.be)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Extension of meal/eco/gift/sport/culture cheques, case BE-2020-12/459 (measures in Belgium), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.