Telework: formalities and reimbursement of costs


In view of the Covid-19 crisis and up to 4 May, non-essential companies were obliged by the government to let their employees work from home if their function allowed this. Teleworking like this was possible without the employer having to agree upon a formal telework agreement with the employee.

Since 4 May, employees are allowed to work again at the company’s premises, even though telework is still the standard. If you consider letting your employees continue to telework on a structural basis, there are a number of points of attention to take into account.  In addition, in a recent circular letter, the tax authorities announced the details of the conditions to grant a lump sum indemnity to cover the costs related to the telework. In this newsletter, we briefly explain the formalities for telework as well as the new rules regarding the lump sum indemnity.

Formalities structural telework

As explained in the introduction, telework is no longer imposed by the government, but it is still the standard. When mandatory telework was the rule, there was a certain tolerance of the government concerning the legal provisions with regard to telework. However, as employers continue to apply structural telework, one can wonder whether the legislative framework regarding telework should not be taken into account in the meantime.

The Law defines a teleworker as an employee who, in the framework of an employment contract, regularly works outside the company premises using information technology, whereas this work could also be carried out at the company offices.  Certain categories of employees are explicitly excluded from telework such as e.g. sales representatives and employees working at the employer’s satellite office. It is important to note that telework is performed voluntarily both by the employee and the employer.

For teleworkers, a written agreement should be drafted, as a rule when the employee starts the telework. In this agreement, specific mandatory provisions are included such as the frequency of the telework, the place where the telework will be performed and how the costs will be reimbursed.

Furthermore, the employer should provide the teleworker with the required equipment and needs to maintain that equipment unless it is agreed that the employee will use his own tools.

Reimbursement of costs

The employer is obliged to reimburse the employee for the costs of connections and communications.

Apart from these costs, the employer can also decide to reimburse the employee for other costs related to the telework. Examples are the costs for electricity and heating, small office supplies, printing material etc.

There are several possibilities to organize this reimbursement of which granting a lump sum office indemnity is one. For more details about this indemnity, we refer to our newsletter of 15 April 2020: Increase indemnity for office costs.

The tax authorities, contrary to the social security authorities, did not apply a lump sum indemnity for office costs. This changed after the circular letter of 14 July 2020. In case of regular and structural telework, the employer can grant a lump sum indemnity of €129,48 EUR per month without having to apply for a ruling. Please note: the tax authorities stipulate as a condition for this indemnity that all employees, without distinction in function, should receive the same indemnity.

On top of the maximum amount of € 129,48 per month, the employer can reimburse the following:

  • € 20 per month if the employee uses his/her own computer for professional purposes;
  • € 20 per month if the employee uses his/her own internet connection for professional purposes.

The lump sum amounts can of course only be granted if the office and internet costs are not yet reimbursed to the employee in another way.

Points of attention

We recommend you to verify if there is structural telework in your company and if you are complying with the required formalities and have made the necessary arrangements regarding the reimbursement of costs related to the telework.

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