All employees who cycle to work will soon be entitled to a bicycle compensation of €0.27 per kilometre of their commute from 1 May 2023, following an agreement between trade unions and employer organisations in the National Labour Council (NAR).
Previously, the compensation was €0.24 per kilometre but the amount has increased with the ceiling for tax-exemptions soon set at €0.27 per kilometre (with a maximum of 40km per day applicable). Compensation can still be applied above this but this will be taxable as part of the salary.
However, employees who are already entitled to such compensation under a collective agreement will not see any changes. "If employers have already made agreements for bicycle compensation allowances, these can be kept," explained Veerle Michiels of social services company SD-Worx. "In principle, you are not obliged to raise that amount."
By generalising the bicycle compensation, the hope is to encourage more employees to choose bicycles to commute. At present, a total of 11% of all employees – blue-collar and white-collar workers – travel to work by bicycle. 55% of people who live less than five kilometres from work still use their car.
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Apart from the positive impact to employees' health and the environment, reducing the number of cars on the road should ease congestion.
Employers' organisation VBO welcomed the decision: "We are pleased that the social partners were able to reach an agreement about a complex economic situation. We now hope that the government will respect this agreement."
In 2019, the Central Business Council estimated the cost of an inter-professional bicycle allowance at €40 million a year for the entire private sector, the VRT reports. This amounts to around 2% of what companies spend on company cars or 0.02% of Belgium's total wage packet.