Increase of public transport fares as from February 1, 2021

On February 1, 2021, the subscription fees for the train (NMBS/SNCB) and the bus (TEC/De Lijn) have been increased. In this newsletter, we would like to inform you of the impact of these increases for you as an employer.

We repeat in a nutshell the general principles that determine whether you, as an employer, are obliged to contribute to the commuting costs of your employees:

  • For employees who come to work by public transport, the employer is obliged to pay a contribution. Before July 1, 2020, the employer only had to contribute if the employee travelled more than 5 kilometers to work by bus, tram, metro or waterbus. Since July 1, 2020, this contribution applies as from the 1st kilometer.
  • All employers are subject to a minimum contribution, laid down at the level of the National Labour Council (CNT/NAR). Within the National Labour Council, a collective bargaining agreement was concluded that determines the employer's contribution based on lump sums. These amounts have remained unchanged since July 1, 2019.
  • For employees who come to work by their own means of transport (car, bicycle,...), it should be checked whether a contribution has been determined at sector level.

As you can read below, increases of the fares of the public transport companies do not affect every employer.



As from February 1, 2021, the NMBS/SNCB increased the fee of the commuting train season tickets by 1,95%.

Whether you, as an employer, have to contribute to this increase in fares, depends on the joint industrial committee (sector) to which your company belongs, and the collective labour agreements that were concluded in this joint industrial committee:

  1. Your sector does not stipulate anything about the contribution to commuting costs or refers to the general minimum regulation provided for by the National Labour Council: your contribution does not increase, as the lump sums remained unchanged.
  2. Your sector provides for the employer's contribution to be equal to a percentage of the actual rail fares: your contribution will increase.
  3. You make use of a third-party payer agreement whereby you as an employer pay a contribution of 80% of the actual price of the train season ticket to the train company and the state pays the remaining 20%: your contribution will increase.


Metro, tram, bus, waterbus

Does your employee travel to work by metro, tram, bus or waterbus? First of all, check whether your sector has stipulated anything for this reimbursement.

If your sector does not stipulate anything, the price increases will have an impact on your contribution to the commuting costs, depending on which of the following regulations applies:

  • Is the reimbursement of the transport linked to the distance travelled? Then the employer’s contribution is calculated on the basis of the fixed lump sums of the railway transport, but the contribution is limited to 75% of the actual transport cost.
  • Is the reimbursement of the transport not linked to the distance? The contribution of the employer is 71,80% of the actual transport cost, not exceeding the lump sum provided for the train for a distance of 7 kilometers.


Private transport

Does your employee come to work using his own car, bike or by foot?

A mandatory contribution to private transport is not provided for by the National Labour Council. Therefore, the employer's contribution for private transport is often provided for at sectoral or company level. If your sector refers to the lump sums of the railway transport, your employer's contribution will not increase. However, some sectors refer to a percentage of the actual train fares. In this case, the employer's contribution to the commuting costs will increase.


Combined public transport

Your employee combines the train with one or more other means of public transport?First of all, check the regulations in your sector.

If your sector does not stipulate anything and if only one ticket has been provided for the whole distance, the employer's contribution is calculated on the basis of the established lump sums of the railway transport. If several tickets are provided, the employer’s contribution must be calculated separately for each means of public transport. These employer contributions must be added together.



The increase in the public transport fares does not necessarily mean an increase in cost for you as an employer. A lot depends on the rules that apply in your sector. Please check for your employees who come to work by public transport whether a reimbursement is applied as from the 1st kilometer.

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