Even after corona, many companies want to continue working (partially) from home. But what consequences does this have for the ‘traditional’ travel allowance that many employees received? And when are you entitled to a homework allowance?
Fewer kilometers have been made for work since the start of the corona crisis. While many companies continued to pay the fixed travel allowance in the initial phase, a fifth of the organizations have already stopped paying, according to research by HR service provider Visma | raet.
The Dutch Thales has also taken a different approach since the crisis. At this technology company, ‘working 60/40’ has become the norm. “That is to say: three days at the office and two days at home,” says communications director Job van Harmelen of Thales. “In 2014 we already started to focus more on working smarter and therefore also on remote working. Corona has certainly had an influence on this development.”
Thales mainly wants to use the post-corona office as a place for social contact. ,,You come to the office to meet each other, because concentrated work can often also be done at home. An analysis of all kinds of data has therefore shown us that three days at the office and two days working from home is the best ratio.”
How are employees financially compensated in the new situation? Thales, like many other companies in the Netherlands, solves this by paying a work-from-home allowance. They use the standard of 2 euros per day calculated by Nibud. Due to the corona pandemic, companies can still write these costs untaxed under the work-related costs scheme this year. “This arrangement means that since last year you can spend 3 percent of the wage bill up to 400,000 euros and 1.18 percent on the excess of all employees together tax-free on work-related costs,” says tax specialist Raymond Barkman of Nextens.
A generous percentage to take into account the special circumstances surrounding corona. Barkman: “It is expected that this will be reduced to the original percentage of 1.2 percent of the total wage bill in 2022.”
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Barkman expects the cabinet to come up with a new plan for the tax-free working from home allowance on Budget Day. “They will have to make a gesture towards employers. For companies that, for example, want to help their employees with a good home workplace, this is still financially favorable at the moment, so make use of the work-related costs scheme, especially this year.”
Received too much compensation
The travel allowance is seen by many employees as a welcome extra. After all, they now receive money for travel costs that they do not incur. But this situation is not as advantageous as it may seem, says Jacques Raaijmakers of XpertHR. “Many employees do not sufficiently realize that an excessive income in the form of too high a travel allowance can ultimately have a negative effect,” he warns. “If it later appears during a check that these travel costs have not been incurred, the employer can receive an additional assessment.”
This is passed on to the employee. “Wage tax still has to be paid because the employee has in fact received extra wages. So be careful with this, and make sure that you agree properly about the tax consequences if you see that you receive too much travel reimbursement.”
According to tax expert Barkman, many companies have already reduced the travel allowance or are in the process of doing so. “Companies do not want to reimburse costs that are not incurred.” To be sure as an employee whether you will receive sufficient travel allowance, you must check what has been agreed in the terms of employment.
We are considering switching to registering the journeys made. That just requires a little more administrative work
In most cases you will receive either a variable car allowance in the form of 19 cents per kilometer, for which you have to declare the costs, or – if you go to the same location for more than 128 days a year – a fixed allowance for commuting. “That is easy for companies to calculate,” says Raaijmakers. ,,You can then assume 214 days, times 19 cents per kilometer in a day. You divide that amount by twelve months. But some companies top this off and pay a maximum amount per month. That is just what has been agreed.”
Thales is now looking at whether it wants to move away from the fixed fee. “Of course there are also people who cannot work from home for business or private purposes,” says Van Harmelen. ,,That’s why we try to make sure that every team applies the 60/40 rule, but that there can be individual differences. We are considering switching to registering the journeys made. That just requires a little more administrative work.”
Less travel costs and a new work-from-home allowance will save companies a significant cost item in the long term, Van Harmelen knows. “For the short term, for example, we have invested heavily in hardware and software to remote to make work safe and easy. But on the other hand, for example, we were looking to expand our office in square meters. Due to the developments around remote working is that of the job and that saves money.”
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