When am I entitled to receive meal vouchers?

A meal voucher is a benefit in kind that is contractually granted by employers to employees. Therefore, in accordance with the law or collective banking or insurance agreements, employees are not entitled to receive meal vouchers; the employee’s employment contract alone shall stipulate the number of vouchers issued to the employee and the amount they represent.

If specific rules are not provided for in the employment contract, the general regime for benefits in kind will govern the granting of meal vouchers and, in particular, the instances in which meal vouchers are not issued. In the absence of a clear provision regarding the latter, meal vouchers are to be treated like any other benefit in kind.

In particular, under Article L. 121-6, paragraph 3, second sub-paragraph of the Labour Code, employees on sick leave are entitled to continue to receive their salary in full and the related benefits in kind (including meal vouchers), but only for the period in which sick pay is covered by the employer. The same applies for recreational leave – statutory paid leave – (Article L. 233-14 of the Labour Code) and extraordinary leave (Article L. 233-16 of the Labour Code).

Conversely, employees may not claim meal vouchers during maternity leave, parental leave or periods of sick leave covered by the CNS. The same applies during statutory notice periods not worked (Article L. 124-9, paragraph 1, second sub-paragraph of the Labour Code).

Frequently ill-informed of their obligations, some employers refuse to pay meal vouchers during all periods of absence on the basis of Article 115(21) of the Income Tax Law. In fact, this article only addresses the matter of tax exemptions for benefits in kind and does not concern payment entitlement. Yet, even the Luxembourg Court of Appeal has fallen for this misinterpretation by justifying the refusal to issue meal vouchers on the basis of this article.