According to a survey, more than one in two Belgians would plan to return to the office more this winter to cope with soaring energy prices @BELGAIMAGE
Last weekend, Thomas Leysen, boss of Umicore, indicated that his company was going to ask employees to telework one day a week, on Fridays. “That way we can have three days without heating” (i.e. Friday, Saturday and Sunday), specified Thomas Leysen. The stated objective? To reduce the demand for gas or electricity, in order to lower prices. But also (and above all), to reduce Umicore’s energy bill. According to RTBF, Ethias has been following the same policy since May, closing its Liège offices on Monday.
On paper, other companies could also be tempted, via teleworking, to save on their energy costs. It should be noted, however, that this cannot be decided without the worker’s approval and must be organized in a collective labor agreement and/or in an appendix to the employment contract, as recalled by Echo. However, it is not certain that at the other end of the chain, the employees are determined to stay more at home.
Dozens (or even hundreds) of euros saved per month?
According to a recent survey commissioned by IWG, a company specializing in flexible offices, more than one in two Belgians would indeed plan to return to the office more this winter to cope with soaring energy prices. A day at the office is indeed energy saved at home, in heating but also in lighting (especially in winter). If working from home has always led to an increase in a household’s energy consumption, the bill is likely to be higher in the coming months than during the winters spent in confinement.
Wikipower, a company that establishes energy price comparisons, predicts a monthly surcharge of between 22 and 34 euros for a Brussels or Walloon resident who telecommutes full time.
For De Tijd, the current cost of teleworking is even higher. For this month of September 2022, the daily estimates that a day of work at home costs €10.58 for a Flemish worker, i.e. €8.20 in heating costs and €2.38 in electricity. Returning to the office full time would then save some €230 per month…
The financial contribution of the employer is not compulsory
Currently, collective agreement 85 governing telework provides for financial interventions by the employer to compensate for communication costs. For the heating and electricity costs of the employee in telework, nothing is however mandatory. “The ONSS and the tax administration accept that the employer compensates the worker more significantly, but in absolute terms there is no obligation.n”, lawyer Noël Lambert explained to RTBF. Left to the goodwill of the company, this intervention can therefore vary from 0 to 142.95€…
However, even a maximum compensation could prove to be a poor consolation, if the figures put forward by the DH are correct. According to the daily, a full teleworker (5 days a week) would save up to 1844 euros (!) just this winter by going to their workplace every day. This, on the condition of having a free means of transport to get to the office (on foot, company car, etc.)
However, not everyone enjoys a free means of transport to go to work (far from it). When you have a company car with a petrol card, the choice is quickly made. It is different when commuting is at our expense. The calculation will therefore be personal and will depend on the evolution of fuel prices, the number of kilometers travelled, the consumption of your vehicle, as well as the number of days of teleworking that you plan…