Working in Belgium: eco cheques en meal cheques

What are they and how do I use them?

Door Ninge Sweens

A virtually unknown concept to foreigners, eco cheques and meal cheques are a form of salary. Basically they represent a payment in kind, either food (meal cheques) or products and services (eco cheques). As an extra legal perk, if you have worked in Belgium either as a ‘arbeider’ or ‘bediende’, chances are you’ve recieved these cheques before, as approximately half of all Belgian employees receive part of their compensation in cheques.

What’s the difference?
As the name implies, meal cheques can be used for meals or food. Originally, over 30 years ago these cheques were introduced to compensate meals for workers if their place of work did not provide lunch. You can cash the cheques at restaurants (look for the logo) or to pay for food at the supermarket. If you receive meal cheques, you get one for each full day you’ve worked. They are valid for one year.

Eco cheques can be used for products and services. These remain valid for 24 months and can be used for any service or product that has a small ecological footprint. They can be used for pretty much anything: from electronic devices (with a European A+ label) to solar panels for your house and from electric scooters to public transport. You can also buy biological groceries with them or redecorate your garden. Depending on the sector you work in, the height and consequently the value per cheque can differ. You can receive up to € 250 of eco cheques per year. The highest value one cheque can have is € 10.

Also good to know is that meal cheques require a contribution from the worker of € 1.09 per cheque. Eco cheques do not use any type of deductible. Ready to cash in some of your cheques? Check which companies accept them.