The Labor Minister Jo Brouns has proposed changes following actions in the cleaning assistance sector. Unions and staff do not accept the termination of the collective labor agreement by service voucher companies, which has led to employees no longer receiving an end-of-year bonus.
The sector has been struggling, with companies making little or no profit and cleaners earning little. The price of a service voucher, 9 euros, has not been adjusted or indexed in ten years. Users can contribute an additional 1.8 euros per check in tax, making the actual cost 7.2 euros per hour.
Brouns has previously advocated for more expensive service vouchers. During budget discussions last year, his party proposed scrapping the tax deduction, which currently accounts for 200 million euros of the 1.6 billion euros allocated by the Flemish government for the system. However, the coalition agreement does not allow for an increase in the price of the check itself.
Brouns believes that the next Flemish government should abolish the tax advantage and increase the check price. “7.2 euros per hour is simply too little. The tax benefit should go to the sector, primarily to strengthen the purchasing power of household helpers,” he stated in the Flemish Parliament.
The exact price increase for the check has not been specified by Brouns. His party colleague, Robrecht Bothuyne, suggested that an additional 1 euro per check could increase employees’ wages by 7 euros.
The changes will not be implemented before the elections, as N-VA and Open VLD do not support them. However, it is likely that the next Flemish government will make the checks more expensive in its coalition agreement. N-VA faction leader Wilfried Vandaele said, “The next Flemish government will have to review the system. It is a good system, but it will need adjustments to remain sustainable.”