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New financial contribution for meals vs. meal vouchers

Slovak businesses deal with new parametres for securing meals for their employees.

Employers in Slovakia are obligated to secure meals for their employees. Employers unable to do this through their own or other catering facilities rely, for the most part, on the services of licenced catering services in the form of meal vouchers.

Zuzana Hodoňová, Counsel, zuzana.hodonova@wolftheiss.com Zuzana Hodoňová, Counsel, zuzana.hodonova@wolftheiss.com

Under a recent amendment to the Labour Code, effective March 1, 2021, employers have another way to comply - they may provide a financial contribution for meals. Employers are now required to allow their employees to opt for either meal vouchers or a financial contribution for meals.

However, until the end of this year, this obligation does not apply to employers who have entered a contract for the provision of meal vouchers before December 31, 2021. The law allows employers to set out the details of the selection procedure for meal contributions and its implementation through internal policies and guidelines, which we consider an appropriate solution.

Employers whose obligation to secure meals was already regulated through internal policies will need to amend the policies and communicate that to employees. Employees will now be bound by the selected option for 12 months after their selected option takes effect.

Jozef Virčík, Associate, jozef.vircik@wolftheiss.com Jozef Virčík, Associate, jozef.vircik@wolftheiss.com

Despite the seemingly simple choice on the employees' side, the individual circumstances of the employer will need to be considered. If employers voluntarily contribute beyond what is required under the law, the final effect doesn't need to be the same for employees. Unlike the meal vouchers option where the entire value of the meal is exempt from income tax, experts believe that the financial contribution will be exempt from the income tax only up to the maximum amount provided by law.

Thus, the financial contribution appears to be a good alternative to meal vouchers and is equally favourable for employees when the employer contributes to meals strictly to the extent determined by law (or where the entire voluntary portion is covered by the social fund).

The practical implications are still unclear for employers who already do, or wish to contribute, to meals in an amount surpassing what is required by law. However, the provision of meal vouchers appears to be a more favourable alternative for employees in such cases right now.

This article has been brought to you byWolf Theiss.

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