- 04 Jan 2012
A 'premium for drinks' that is paid by the employer to comply with its obligation to put the appropriate drinks at the disposal of its employees is not subjected to social security contributions.
According to articles 73 and 97 of the General Regulation on Labour Protection employers must put drinkable water or other appropriate drinks at the disposal of their employees.
In this connection two questions arise. Firstly, is it possible that the employer does not comply with its obligation in kind but grants a 'premium for drinks'? If so, is such a premium subject to social security contributions?
In a judgement of 21 November 2011 the Supreme Court answered yes to the first question. The employer indeed has the choice between putting the appropriate drinks at the disposal of the employees or granting a 'premium for drinks'.
In the same judgement the Court also confirmed that such a premium is a reimbursement of costs proper to the employer that is exempt from social security contributions. By paying this premium, the employer executes an obligation that rests upon him.
Note however that the amount of the premium has to be in proportion with the level of the actual costs. In the case that was brought before the Supreme Court the employer paid a fixed annual premium of 100 EUR. Furthermore, a vending machine with bottles of mineral and sparkling water for the unit price of 0.75 EUR was also put at the disposal of the employees. The Court decided on that basis that the amount of the premium did not exceed the actual value of the employer's obligation.