With the Covid-19 pandemic changing the working dynamics across the globe, the 40-hours work week is transforming into a flexible job from home. This two-year process now enters the stage of governmental supervision. With this increase in employees working from home, and the fact that employees would like to have the ability to work from home, the Dutch government introduces from 2022 onwards the working-from-home allowance. Is this mandatory? Does this include taxes, and what does this new regulation do with the existing travel allowance?
Coverage and the new work-from-home trend.
Working from home is the increasingly popular alternative for spending all the days at the office. With the increasing demand by employees to cherish this new system, and the fact that staying from home stimulates the climate-friendly approach of working, working from home is a trend. Instead of travelling by car or plane to your office of clients, Zoom calls and Teams meetings are frequently used to (partly) replace the co2 polluting alternative, and thus emphasises the cautiousness toward the climate.
In a survey by the employers’ association AWVN, 60% of the inquired 450 Dutch companies replied that working 2 days from home can be the new norm(al). In this light, combined with the rise in the percentage of employees working from home due to the pandemic, the Dutch government introduced the working-from-home allowance starting from the first of January 2022. This new regulation is a tax-free allowance consisting of maximally 2 euros per day. This allowance is the extra costs for the employee that can be paid by the employer and includes for instance the water and electricity usage (for the computer), heating, coffee, thee and even toilet paper.
The new regulation
After research by Nibud, the amount of the working-from-home allowance is fixed at a maximum of 2 euro per day or part of a day worked from home. The employer does not need to pay payroll tax over this allowance. The tax-free travel allowance keeps existing and is fixed at 0,19 cents per kilometre. And most importantly, the employer can give the working-from-home allowance or the travel allowance per day of work.
To maintain clarity, for both the employer and the employee, contractual rules can be made to assure the days that the employee works from home, or is at the office. In this manner, the employer can calculate the monthly allowance and does the employee not need to self-handed note the days worked from home or the office. After establishing these rules, and the employee incidentally works from home instead of being present at the office, the calculated allowance does not need to be changed. Only in the case of structurally changing the working flow, the allowances need to be altered to the changing situation.
Some employees work one part of the day at home and the other part at the office. Here, the employer chooses to either give the working-from-home allowance (2 euros per day) or the travel allowance (0.19 cents per kilometre). The employer cannot give both these allowances. Employers also have the choice to let the employee choose. In the case of living far from the office, the travel allowance would be more beneficial for the employee. This can differ from the employer.
Is the working-from-home allowance mandatory?
Starting from 1 January 2022, employers can give working-from-home employees a tax-free allowance of a maximum of 2 euros per day. This allowance is not mandatory, but can be imposed on the employer in the case working from home is integrated into the branch-related CAO. While not mandatory, employees might expect to get this allowance and can showcase their goodness and willingness as an employer. Potentially, this can stimulate employees to stay longer or attract new employees more easily, as it guarantees the company to not suffer under the employee shortage.
The employer pays the working-from-home allowance themselves. This is not compensated by the Belastingdienst (tax authorities). Removing the payroll tax from this allowance is a method by the government to stimulate the companies to give this allowance to the employees. If the employer wants to compensate more than 2 euros per day, payroll tax needs to be paid over the initial 2 euros.
Home workplace equipment
To decorate the home workplace, the employer is already able to give a tax-free allowance. The costs for needed equipment for this home workplace such as a computer or a phone can be done through the already-existing werkkostenregeling (WKR) (work-related cost arrangement). While the CAO can include liabilities regarding the home workplace, the home workplace allowance is, on par with the working-from-home allowance not mandatory. Furthermore, according to the Arbowet, every workplace needs to be included in the Arbo health and safety policy. The employer or company needs to assure that the workplaces, including the home workplaces, are ergonomically designed and have the correct equipment to let the employees correctly and healthy work (from home).
With the new demand for working at home, the Dutch government established the new working-from-home allowance that covers the basic needs of the employees and does not include payroll taxes. While this allowance is not mandatory, incentives to pay this financial contribution are showing willingness and goodness of the employer, attracting new employees or maintaining employees in the current era of employee shortage. Next to this allowance, the travel allowance stays in existence with the rule that only one of these allowances can be applied. In the case of working from home and working from the office on the same day (two different parts of the day), only one allowance can be given. While the working-from-home allowance is not mandatory, the branch-related CAO should also be taken into consideration for the correct rules and regulations.
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