Tuesday, 16 October 2018

French Restaurant Vouchers

Many French employers offer their employees luncheon vouchers known officially as titres-restaurant, but usually referred to as tickets-resto. The scheme is run by various private-public partnerships such as Ticket Restaurant, Chèque Déjeuner, Chèque de Table and Pass Restaurant and overseen by the Commission Nationale de Titres Restaurant.

There is no obligation for employers to offer restaurant vouchers, nor for restaurants to accept them. Employers can choose to feed their workers by having an onsite works canteen or to reimburse an amount towards meals. If employees wish to eat on the premises the employer is obliged to provide a suitable space, separate to the work space. Effectively it is forbidden to eat your lunch at your desk in France. If there are more than 25 employees there must be a dedicated food storage area with a fridge and means of reheating meals.

This restaurant accepts four different types of tickets-resto.

If an employer offers restaurant vouchers they must cover 50-60% of the value of the voucher. The remainder is part of the employee's salary. So for example, for a titre-restaurant worth €11 the employer must cover €5.50 to €6.60 of the value, and the employee €4.40 to €5.50.

Employers don't have to make social security contributions (up to a limit of €5.43 per titre-restaurant). That means if the employer covers 50% of the titre-restaurant, the value of the voucher up to €10.86 is exempt from social contributions. Likewise, the employer's contribution to the vouchers do not count as salary for the calculation of the employee's income tax, up to a limit of €1350 pa.

Theoretically the value of titres-restaurant is up to the employer, but in practice it is limited by considerations such as the social security contributions, the maximum percentage the employer can cover, and the fact that the employee is only allowed to use vouchers to a maximum value of €19 per day.

Normally all employees receive the same value vouchers, and it is not possible to simply receive the equivalent as part of their salary (except under very rare circumstances). Obviously employees can't use a luncheon voucher and then claim the meal as an expense -- that would be double dipping. The number of vouchers issued to an employee is based on the number of days they are present at their usual worksite. If they are working away they get paid expenses instead.

Titres-restaurant can only be used in restaurants, supermarkets and food shops, and the paper vouchers cannot be exchanged for their monetary value (or the difference between the price of the items purchased and the value of the voucher). The vouchers are transferable and can be given to colleagues, friends, or, as is the tradition in December, just before the vouchers expire, given to homeless people. Nowadays some of the schemes are electronic and involve using a 'tap and go' card which only registers the exact amount spent, leaving the balance in your account. Presumably this will bring to an end the ability to transfer vouchers as a charitable act. Supposedly they cannot be used to obtain non-food items such as alcohol or cigarettes, but I hear that in practice they can, so long as you buy some food as well. They can only be used in the département of their issue and the adjoining ones, and are valid for the year they are issued. Their use dates from the Second World War, when they were part of the food rationing system. Restaurants have 60 days to send the vouchers they have collected to the centralised payment administrator for reimbursement.


Tuesday's Training Tales.

The last week has been a bit of a dud. We walked on one day and swam on another, but work and a couple of late nights got in the way. We do have plans to do better...

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