The payment puzzle

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Meal vouchers are a popular benefit-in-kind for employees in Luxembourg. As hospitality reopened, is it time to use your meal vouchers in restaurants? Not so sure. Some establishments are now reluctant to accept them. On the verge of bankruptcy, they are no longer able to digest the delays in reimbursement and commissions.

In the absence of a canteen at small businesses, it is a way for the employer to allow his or her employees to have lunch at a lower cost. The money is theoretically reinjected into the local economy since the meal vouchers are mainly spent in the catering sector, in restaurants or snack bars, but also in supermarkets or petrol stations. The system is well known in Luxembourg and should primarily benefit Luxembourg establishments. The Covid-19 crisis disrupted this arrangement. Restaurants closed down for months, others had to survive on delivery, while employees, who had to work from home, were unable to spend their meal vouchers for many weeks. Some restaurants are struggling to get back on their feet.

Extended validity

Three quarters of meal vouchers are used for catering, according to 2019 figures from Sodexo, with 66 per cent from Edenred, the two (and only) operators for the Grand Duchy. The figures for 2020 will inevitably be different, even if takeaway sales have helped to sell some of them. But this is not the case for border workers who did not go to Luxembourg at all for months. To make up for this exceptional overflow, the "vintage" or validity date of the meal vouchers was extended until the end of June.

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