Now that more people work from home, neck and back complaints are on the increase. This is largely because many employees do not have an ergonomic office chair for working from home. Until recently, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the provision or reimbursement of office furniture for working from home. Fortunately, the new Home Working Circular offers some relief: the employer can now reimburse or make available office furniture for home working, and the tax authorities do not consider this to be a taxable benefit in kind.

In this article, we look at some practical points of attention regarding these office chairs.

Reimbursement or making available?

If the equipment is purchased by employees, the cost of reimbursement can be spread out and there is no need to call on an external supplier. It is also easier from an accounting point of view.

The advantage of making equipment available is that the employer can choose which options to offer, such as placing emphasis on ergonomics. Furthermore, the employer usually enjoys additional discounts, and it is easier for the employee. If the chair is made available, we expect that it will be possible to include it in a cafeteria plan. However, this still needs to be confirmed by the social security and tax authorities.

Avoiding choice-related stress

To avoid the complexities of calculating the implications of different options, it is a good idea to draw up a limited list of office equipment from which employees can choose. An expensive designer table, for example, will soon be in the sights of the taxman, and anything above the purchase value of average office furniture will be taxed as a benefit in kind. With a limited list, the employer can properly manage what is offered to the employee.

What to do when leaving service?

The circular mentions a period of availability of 10 years for an office chair, table and/or cupboard, and 5 years for a desk lamp. If the employee can keep these goods when leaving or when the working from home agreement is finished, tax on the real residual value of the investment must be paid or a personal contribution must be paid. An alternative is that the office chair can be returned, however this is not always easy as related costs of transport and maintenance can be very high.

Other points of interest?

We also recommend that you carefully investigate all the tax and accounting aspects, such as the deduction of VAT, as this is not regulated in the circular.

How to choose the right supplier?

The choice of supplier for your office equipment is also important.

  • Choose quality materials and equipment that last and pay attention to the ergonomics of the chair.
  • Direct delivery to employees' homes is important. It is best to work with 'track & trace' to make communication with the employee as clear as possible. Not all B2B suppliers are used to delivering to private individuals.
  • It is important that the equipment is easy to use. Try to avoid equipment that requires employees to navigate complicated setup or assembly.