Should employers in France award restaurant vouchers to employees working remotely? – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Remote work, already brought up to date thanks to the complete overhaul of the system carried out by one of the Macron ordinances (n ° 2017-1387 of September 22, 2017), has been proposed as a preventive measure in the context of the pandemic of Covid-19. While employees have appreciated this new form of work organization, more practical questions have arisen over the weeks, in particular whether they are still entitled to restaurant vouchers (restaurant vouchers, or “TR”).

1. The objective of TR

The restaurant voucher is a special payment voucher issued by the employer to employees to enable them to pay all or part of the price of a meal consumed in a restaurant (Labor Code, article L. 3262-1).

It was put in place to allow employees of organizations that do not have catering (canteen, company restaurant) at their workplace to have lunch off-site at advantageous financial conditions, since their employer, together with the employee, bears these costs. meals and the employer’s contribution are exempt from social charges and taxes.

2. What are TRs used for?

The use of TRs has changed: first, they could be exchanged with individuals or organizations exercising the profession of restaurateur, hotel and restaurant owner or a similar activity; since 2009, they can also be used in fruit and vegetable retailers (Labor Code, article L. 3262-3 amended by law n ° 2009-879 of July 21, 2009).

It is for this reason that many stores and supermarkets accept payment for certain food purchases by means of one (or even two) TR per day. The use of TR is limited to a maximum amount of EUR 19 per day (article R. 3262-10 of the Labor Code).

The conditions of use of restaurant vouchers were last modified on June 10, 2020 (by decree n ° 2020-706) to encourage the use of TRs in restaurants and hotel restaurants, and thus respond to the economic difficulties of these establishments resulting from their closure. during the state of health emergency. Between June 11 and December 31, 2020 and only in hotel-restaurants or similar establishments, this decree authorizes the use of TRs on Sundays and public holidays and increases their maximum use to EUR 38 per day.

3. A potentially discriminatory situation?

The employer might be tempted to consider that, since the TR is intended to cover some of the additional expenses incurred by the employee for eating away from home, in particular in a restaurant, where he / she teleworks from home, no TR should be allocated since the employee can have lunch at home at no additional cost.

The risk is that the exclusion of remote workers from the benefit of TRs is contrary to the principle of equal treatment. Indeed, under the terms of article 4 of the National Interprofessional Agreement (ANI) of July 19, 2005 on teleworking:

“Teleworkers enjoy the same legal and contractual rights and advantages as those applicable to employees in comparable situations working on company premises”.

This principle is taken up by article 21 of decree no. 2017-1387 of September 22, 2017, which modifies article L. 1222-9 of the labor code by specifying that “teleworkers have the same rights as employees who perform their work on the company’s premises”.

In addition, article R. 3262-7 of the labor code, which stipulates that “the same employee can only receive one meal voucher for each meal included in his daily work schedule”, in no way imposes if the meal is taken away from home.

Excluding teleworkers from the benefit of RTs even though the texts do not require that the meal be taken outside the home could therefore be considered contrary to the principle of equal treatment.

The only possible exclusion could be when a teleworker does not work a full day or, more specifically, does not work during meal time. In this case, the employee would not meet the conditions to be entitled to the benefit of meal vouchers, as provided for in article R.3262-7:

“An employee can only receive one meal voucher for each meal included in his daily working hours.

4. The position of URSSAF

On September 8, 2015, the group of organizations responsible for collecting employer and employee social security contributions, URSSAF, published its official position, available here. It sets several conditions for teleworkers to claim the benefit of meal vouchers:

  • Employees working on the company’s premises must themselves benefit from it,
  • The working conditions of employees working at home and those of employees working on company premises must be equivalent.

According to Acoss, the central body of URSSAF and other social organizations, the teleworker is a “full employee” and therefore has the same individual and collective rights as his colleagues working on site.

If employees working on site in the employer’s premises benefit from TR, the same applies to teleworkers “at home, on the move or in a satellite office”, provided that they meet the same conditions as the employees. working on the premises of the organization: they will receive one TR per day worked as long as their working day includes “two shifts interrupted by a meal break”.

Acoss has apparently taken a position on the issue and considers that, on the basis of the principle of equal treatment, employers must assume that employees working remotely should benefit from meal vouchers on the same basis as employees who continue to work on the premises of the company and who benefit from it.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought on your particular situation.

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