In a competitive job market, where organizations are in a constant battle to attract and retain talent, employee benefits in a pay package play an undeniable role. Offering attractive benefits is more than a means to keep employees happy; it is a strategic move that can boost an organization's productivity, engagement and overall success.
In this blog post, we zoom in on a specific benefit that is generating a lot of interest in the HR corridors today: childcare. We explore how organizations can leverage this benefit in their pay package to create a productive work environment that benefits both employees and employers.
Besides flexible work benefits and mobility benefits, among others (read more about the different types of benefits in this e-book, Dutch only), wellbeing benefits also seem to be on a major HR rise. The increasing workload and changing work environment after the corona pandemic have everything to do with this, of course.
Wellbeing benefits are benefits that focus on the physical and mental health of employees. It is impossible to imagine Belgian pay packages without them! Why? Easy: a healthy employee is generally happier, and thus more productive in the workplace! Read more about the types of wellbeing benefits in the e-book mentioned above.
Childcare as an employee benefit
The need for childcare was highlighted in Belgium when the Flemish government decided to invest an additional 270 million euros in childcare in the fall of 2023, after a week of intense discussions. One obvious solution that was only discussed sideways was the idea of letting companies invest in their employees' childcare (De Tijd, 2023).
How can companies play a role in this? The answer is extremely simple: through the cafeteria plan. This flexible compensation system allows employees to exchange a portion of their pay package for tax-advantaged benefits that better suit their personal needs. These can range from extra vacation days to a contribution to the employee's well-being, such as child care.
Employers already offer a variety of benefits through cafeteria plans, such as insurance that covers the cost of braces and lenses. To combat burnout, companies are investing in sports and mental health. But when it comes to the well-being of parents with young children, the real source of stress is rarely considered: finding suitable childcare, hoping their child doesn't get sick, getting home on time after a long day at work, and still having to prepare dinner.
Wellbeing benefits are essential in Belgian pay packages. A healthy employee is not only happier, but also more productive. Organizations that invest in these benefits often see lower absenteeism and higher performance.
Childcare within a company context thus seems to be the best investment for mental health and a good work-life balance for both women and men. It provides equal opportunities for personal development and career growth within the organization. Moreover, it supports child care workers with a professional framework (De Tijd, 2023).
Political parties are also picking up on this and seem to want to facilitate employees' work-life balance by offering them a tax-friendly childcare option through the employer. These would be childcare places offered directly through a cafeteria plan, not the establishment of their own childcare facility in the workplace. This way, child care costs are included in the pay package (under the cafeteria plan) and not added on top of it.
Finally, reimbursement for child camps is gaining popularity. Including this as a benefit in a flexible compensation plan expands the pillar of wellbeing benefits. This can be done free of NSSO contributions up to a maximum of €600 per child, per year.