Meal financing for employees from the Company Social Benefits Fund

The Company Social Benefits Fund (ZFŚS) is a special fund established by employers. It is mandatory for employers who, as of January 1 of a given year, employ at least 50 full-time equivalent employees.

What can be financed from ZFŚS?

Employers can finance various types of benefits from ZFŚS that fall within the concept of social activities. Social activities, according to the Act of March 4, 1994, on the Company Social Benefits Fund, include services provided by employers for various forms of recreation, cultural-educational activities, sports and recreational activities, childcare in crèches, children’s clubs, provided by a daily caregiver or nanny, in kindergartens, and other forms of preschool education. This also includes providing material or financial assistance, as well as repayable or non-repayable assistance for housing purposes under conditions specified in the agreement. Common examples include various vouchers, allowances, holiday packages, or loans.

Can meals be financed from ZFŚS?

Financing meals for employees from ZFŚS raises many questions. The State Labor Inspectorate takes the position that financing benefits granted to employees in connection with their employment in a specific company, such as insurance policies, accommodation, transportation to work, meals, or social security contributions, is excluded. This position stems from the judgment of the Court of Appeals dated October 1, 2013, in which the Court of Appeals indicated that only those types of social activities covered by the statutory definition of social activities could be financed from the Company Social Benefits Fund.

Co można finansować z ZFŚS?

The Ministry of Labor, Family, and Social Policy holds the same position. In a letter dated July 26, 2023, the ministry stated that statutory social activities do not include employer expenses for so-called subsistence purposes, which include, for example, meals, health care, commuting to work, and accommodation for employees. This means that employer expenses related to the systematic organization and operation of collective catering for employees – whether through in-house canteens, catering, purchase of identification marks (vouchers, coupons) or prepaid cards allowing all employees to purchase meals or food items – are not eligible for financing from ZFŚS.

The position on the possibility of financing meals from ZFŚS is not uniform. Views indicating the permissibility of such a solution can be found. However, due to the position of the State Labor Inspectorate, which is responsible for supervising and controlling the correct application of labor law by employers, including the ZFŚS Act, caution should be exercised in this area.