The Schaerbeek Commune has been ordered to pay 10 years of backdated ONSS (National Social Security Office) contributions, RTBF reported on Saturday.
It was confirmed by the Budget and Account Councillor Michel De Herde. The case dates back to the 10th of August last year.
Michel De Herde said numerous communes in Brussels and Wallonia were in the same situation, including Etterbeek, Jette and Watermael-Boitsfort. “Communes reasonably think they can get rid of end of year bonuses and replace them with non-taxable bonuses like restaurant cheques. This was very common in the early 2000s. Local and provincial administrations have since been taken over by the ONSS, which has taken the Communes to court”.
Over 700 administration employee contracts and 700 CPAS employee contracts are concerned. The case does not include bonuses paid to statuaries.
The decision was explained to the Communal Council last October. The definitive sum has not yet been revealed by the ONSS. They are currently in negotiations with the Unions to determine the new payment system for administration staff. They are currently discussing reinstating the end of year bonus, which is calculated into pensions. Other bonuses given in the past, like restaurant cheques, will be cut back. The new law will be discussed with the Unions again on Wednesday and submitted to the Communal Council at the end of the month.
The Commune has put aside 5 million euros over the years, in anticipation of a bad ruling. Communal finances will therefore remain fairly stable. The 2018 budget voted in November showed a 700,000 euro increase and a 2 million euro cumulated increase, says Michel De Herde. “We are in advance with our management plan. The tutors noted that we are still on the right track, but the situation has been completely smoothed out. I wrote to the Brussels President-Minister Rudi Vervoort at the start of the year to ask him to end the tutorship for the commune. I hope this will happen in 2019”.