In a judgement of 20 May 2019 (AR S. 17.0063.F), the Belgian Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) has answered the question whether benefits provided by a third party to an employee, should be seen as part of his/her wage, on which social security contributions need to be paid.
In general, remuneration is the counterpart of work performed in execution of an employment contract. The employer’s obligation to pay remuneration is not a separate element of the notion of remuneration, it is a necessary consequence of the performance of work under the employment contract.
Pursuant to Article 2 of the Wage Protection Act of 12 April 1965, on the protection of the remuneration of workers, remuneration should be understood to mean the salary, valued in money and other measurable monetary benefits, to which the worker is entitled to charge the employer, because of his commitment. These terms do not affect the above general definition of the notion of remuneration, i.e. the compensation for work performed in the performance of an employment contract. However, this legal provision extends the notion of remuneration to monetary or assessable monetary benefits to which the worker is entitled as a dependant of the employer, because of the commitment, although they do not constitute this counterpart.
The remuneration allocated to workers for work performed in performance of their employment contract therefore constitutes remuneration within the meaning of the Wage Protection Act, and it is this concept of renumeration, which is taken into account for the calculation of social security contributions.
Thus, the benefits which a third party pays to the employees of a company, in order for them to sell his product at their place of work to the customers of their employer, constitute “compensation for the work performed in execution [of] the existing employment contract between the employees and the company”. Social security contributions should be paid on these benefits.