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Workplace health promotion - assistance in keeping employees healthy

In the early days of workplace health promotion, it was more a question of whether the measure should be introduced or not. That has changed fundamentally. Today we are discussing how best to introduce it. Because high levels of sick leave not only burden the health insurance companies through medical care and wage replacement benefits. They are also a huge cost factor for companies, but companies are not alone in this challenge. The state provides adequate support and financial aid. This concerns the avoidance of sickness and work-related accident-related absences as well as measures to maintain health in the workplace. Since every company has its own requirements for the WHP, those involved must first agree on the common goal at the beginning of the measure.

Because it's not just about sensitizing employees to a healthy lifestyle. It is also a matter of reviewing and redesigning the working conditions and the operational process organization. Appropriate measures should help to reduce sources of danger for employees as well as physical and psychological stress.

Table of Contents:

1 BGF is a development process
1.1 Who bears the costs of the BGF?
2 areas of responsibility of the statutory accident insurance
2.1 The employers' liability insurance associations as providers of accident insurance
3. Health care - a task of the health insurance companies
3.1 Health insurance prevention courses
4 measures taken by the employer to maintain health in the workplace
4.1 Further employee welfare measures
4.1.1 Review and optimization of the workplace
4.1.2 Company medical service
4.1.3 Mobile massage
4.1.4 In-house fitness room
4.1.5 External provider - fitness studio
5 What are the advantages of BGF
5.1 for the entrepreneur?
5.2 for the employees?
6. How does the tax office support the BGF?
6.1 Relief of the company according to § 3 No. 34 EStG
6.2 Tax-privileged contributions from the employer to his employees
6.3 Are the 500 euros mainly in the company's own interests?
6.3.1 500 Euro - Exemption or Exemption Limit?
6.3.2 Other possible non-tax and social security benefits in kind
7 Which measures are mainly in the company's own interests?
8 Good to know:
8.1 Changes to tax breaks from 2020
8.2 Transition period for uncertified measures
9. Contact person for further information:
10. Fazit

1 Workplace health promotion is a development process

But who are the participants in the development process? In addition to the company management and employees, these are above all the works council, the health insurance companies, the statutory accident insurance and the occupational medical services. If the parties have agreed on a common path, the costs for the health promotion measures are partially covered by the health insurance companies. How many different health insurances are involved depends on where the individual employees are insured.

Who bears the costs of workplace health promotion?

Basically, in addition to the health insurance companies, the accident insurance companies, employers and possible sponsors are asked to financially support such measures, which usually take the form of courses. In terms of time frame, the courses last at least 2-3 months and must take place regularly.

2 areas of responsibility of the statutory accident insurance

The statutory accident insurance is responsible for avoiding illness-related absences that can be traced back to industrial accidents.

The tasks of accident insurance are:
a. Prevention of accidents at work, occupational diseases and work-related health hazards.
b. In the event of an insured event, restore the health and productivity of the insured.
c. To compensate the insured persons who have had an accident or their surviving dependents through cash benefits.

The employers' liability insurance associations as carriers of accident insurance

The commercial employers' liability insurance associations, which are organized under the Central Association of German Statutory Accident Insurance (DGUV), are active.

Your task is to prevent accidents at work and work-related health hazards as well as occupational diseases with suitable measures. Therefore, in accordance with Section 23 of Book VII of the Social Code, they train the employees who are to ensure occupational safety in the company. They have to inform all colleagues about the accident prevention regulations issued by the BG according to § 15 SGB VII. Authorized inspectors regularly check compliance with accident prevention regulations.

3. Health care - a task of the health insurance companies

The health insurance companies are responsible for preventive health care. Its aim is to win employees over to a healthy lifestyle.

Health insurance prevention courses

Prevention courses are offered by the health insurance companies. It is a catalog of primary prevention measures. Which measures meet the requirements of §§ 20, 20 b SGB V and are therefore tax-privileged is listed in the prevention guide of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds. The prevention courses are intended to ensure that the members (insured persons) are ready to take action for their own health and concern the following fields of action:

Exercise habits

- Health promoting, sporting activities
- Health and behavioral exercise programs

Healthy eating

- Prevention and reduction of weight problems
- Avoidance of malnutrition and the associated lack of important nutrients

stress management

- relaxation courses, e.g. B. Yoga, autogenic training
- Identifying strategies for coping with stress

Addiction prevention

- Non-smoking courses
- Sensible use of alcohol

The health insurance companies will not fully finance all health-promoting measures. But they support the preventive measures financially. (For details, please contact the relevant health insurance company).

The Central Prevention Unit decides on the funding of the prevention courses or the partial assumption of the costs. Criteria such as the prospects of success and qualifications (certification) of the provider are used as a basis. Providers of courses that promote workplace health can have them certified by the Central Prevention Testing Center free of charge and within 10 working days.

The criteria set by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds for the certification of courses in individual behavior-related prevention can be found under: Information for providers of prevention courses.

4 measures taken by the employer to maintain health in the workplace

The annual health reports show increasing absenteeism in most work-related illnesses. They concern:
- the muscular and skeletal system,
- the psyche,
- the airways,
- the cardiovascular system and
- the digestive organs,
which is why employers are now increasingly asking for measures to keep employees healthy and offering them themselves.

Offers that are possible for every company size:
- free drinks (mainly mineral water and hot drinks) or
- the vitamin syringe in the form of a fruit plate, several times a week,
- a relaxation room that can also be used for therapeutic measures,
- flexible working hours, such as flexitime or working time accounts or
- a break room with kitchen area

These examples belong in the comfort area of ​​the employees. An approach that should not be underestimated. Because when the employees feel cared for, it increases their willingness to work. A feeling of family togetherness can develop, which has the potential to counteract work-related mental illness.

Further employee welfare measures

- Review and optimization of the workplace
- Medical Services
- Mobile massages
- In-house fitness room
- External provider - fitness

And there are even more ways to make everyday working life more healthy. How the employer sets up the BGF depends on the size of the company and the business activity. A company that mainly does office work requires a different range of precautionary measures than an industrial company in the steel sector.

Thanks to the familiarity and increased willingness to help, there is also the opportunity to optimally coordinate work processes within the company.

Review and optimization of the workplace

Any existing problems at the workplace and in the work environment are analyzed with the help of the health insurance companies and a concept is developed to optimize the field of activity.

Medical Services

The company medical service supports and advises the employer on health and safety at work and risk assessment.

Mobile massages

The mobile massages are not offered in the form of prevention courses, as they only make sense if there is definitely pain. They belong to the remedies, are usually prescribed by doctors when necessary and subsidized by health insurances in this way. Since muscle tension and pain are the rule for employees at computer workstations, the employer has the option of having any complaints treated therapeutically at operating costs.

For employees who do not work at the VDU workstations, the employer can Office massage subsidize tax-free and social security-free with the help of earmarked vouchers with the small maximum benefit in kind of 44 euros.

In-house fitness room

If the fitness room is demonstrably used by all employees, it belongs to the tax-privileged BGF. (To be on the safe side, you should secure yourself with the application for a binding call information (§ 42e EStG) at the tax office.

External provider - gym

Visiting a fitness center is usually not tax-privileged. There are, however, two exceptions:

a. The employer agrees on a framework contract with the operator and pays the monthly contribution of 70 euros for each active employee. He deducts an amount of 28 euros a month from his employees' payroll. The benefit in kind after deduction of employee shares is 42 euros and is therefore below the remuneration limit of 44 euros. If the employees do not receive any further benefits in kind, the non-cash benefit of 42 euros remains tax-free (Section 8 (2) sentence 9 EStG).

b. The employer can give his employees a dedicated voucher of up to 44 euros to visit the fitness studio. This means that the donation is also exempt from taxes and social security contributions.

5 What are the advantages of workplace health promotion

for the entrepreneur?

The BGF shows the employees an appreciation that motivates them to contribute their potential performance. You are more motivated, identify more with the company, work more effectively and behave more quality-conscious. In a good working atmosphere, the number of days absent due to illness decrease, which allows more financial leeway and thus strengthens the competitiveness of the company.
There is also an essential point: The company's public image is enhanced (image enhancement).

for the employees?

The employees benefit from the improved working atmosphere. You are more satisfied and consequently more productive. Since everyday work makes up a large part of their lives, their quality of life improves and, as a result, their health. You will have to go to the doctor less often and thus register fewer sick days.
These are just a few positive points. Overall, there is a win-win situation for employers and employees at BGF. However, it should be noted that all employees are included in the introduction of corporate health promotion. And this commitment is supported by the tax office.

6. How does the tax office support the BGF?

Relief of the company according to § 3 No. 34 EStG

In order to relieve the burden on companies, the legislature has made certain employer benefits tax-free and thus also exempt from social security in accordance with Section 3 No. 34 EStG. However, due to the adjustment to the so-called Prevention Act of July 17, 2015, Federal Law Gazette 2018 1 page 1368 from January 01.01.2020, 20, these services must meet the quality criteria according to Sections 20, XNUMX b SGB V. What does that mean?

Tax-privileged benefits from the employer to his employees

In addition to the tax relief in accordance with Sections 20, 20 b SGB V, the employer is granted additional financial leeway. According to § 3 No. 34 EStG, the employer can grant his employees a total of 500 euros tax-free and social security-free for health promotion measures every calendar year. There is no difference here between low-wage earners, full-time employees or his partner-managing directors.

This, however, only if the service is paid for the wages owed anyway and serves to improve the general state of health and to promote health in the company. It is important that the certification (qualification) of the executing specialist has been proven.

Are the 500 euros mainly in the company's own interests?

The 500 euros are tax-free and social security-free lump sums that are not subject to a review of whether there is a predominantly internal interest. In addition, the tax exemption of 500 euros also applies if an employee changes employer in the same year. The employee could thus be granted the full amount of the exemption several times a year.

500 euros - tax exemption or exemption limit?

Should the health services exceed the EUR 500 limit, only the amount exceeding EUR 500 is taxable.

Other possible tax and social security-free benefits in kind

The monthly payment in kind of 44 euros gross can also be awarded. Likewise, the gift of 60 euros gross that is linked to a personal occasion, such as a birthday or wedding.

7 Which measures are mainly in the company's own interests?

According to the judgment of the BFH, dated March 11.03.2010, 7, Az. VI R 08/XNUMX, payments by the employer in the field of company health promotion are only tax and social security-free if the company's own interests prevail. In the predominantly internal interests of the employer, for example, expenses for:

a. Massages for employees who work at computer workstations (BFH judgment of May 30.5.2001, 2001, BStBl. 671 II p. XNUMX).

b. Back training programs for employees to avoid absenteeism due to back problems (BFH judgment of July 4.7.2007, 2007, BFH / NV 1874 p. 27.4.2006; FG Cologne of April 2007, 923, EFG XNUMX p. XNUMX).

c. Spinal column training therapy according to the FPZ concept, according to a medical report (FG Cologne from September 24.9.2003, 112, 428 K 03/XNUMX).

d. Preventive medical check-ups for senior staff (health check, manager check-up) for the early detection of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as cancer prevention (BFH judgment of September 17.9.1982, 1983, Federal Tax Gazette 39 II p. 30.9.2009; FG Düsseldorf of September 2010, 137, EFG XNUMX P. XNUMX).

8 Good to know:

Change in tax benefits from 2020

From 2020, the tax concessions only concern measures that meet the requirements of Sections 20, 20 b of SGB V (Social Code V). This means that the requirements in terms of quality, targeting, earmarking and certification must be met. The minimum requirements for targeting and quality of the measures are met when qualified specialists such as physiotherapists, nutritionists or alternative practitioners are employed.
Conversely, this means that only those health measures are funded that are approved by the health insurance companies.
For companies that work with skilled staff or are managed by a qualified specialist, approval was granted without any problems.

Transitional period for non-certified measures

Since January 1.1.2019, 31.12.2019, there has been a requirement that tax-privileged corporate health promotion must be certified measures. Until December 1.1.2019, 52, the prerequisite is a transition period for non-certified measures that had already started before January 4, 6 (Section XNUMX (XNUMX) sentence XNUMX EStG new version).

The Federal Fiscal Court (BFH) has decided with regard to the assumption of costs for massages for employees who work at computer workstations that these are mainly in the company's own interests and therefore do not represent wages. Since the payments are not taxable, they do not have to be included in the 500 euros per calendar year. That means: Massage services are basically exempt from income tax and social security. So nothing will change in terms of massage expenses in 2020.

As far as corporate, mobile massages are concerned, it is okay if they are performed by people who are allowed to perform massages based on their professional qualifications (certification). All that is required is that the service provider register with the relevant health insurance company.

9. Contact person for further information:

- Call information according to Section 42e of the Income Tax Act for security on the wage tax side.

- WHP coordination office for advice and support in the implementation of WHP measures *

- Prevention guidelines for information about the possibilities of support from the health insurance companies **

10. Fazit

In addition to occupational health and safety, in-company integration management and other health-related aids, company health promotion is an instrument of holistic company health management and is supported by the health insurance companies.

In accordance with Section 3 No. 34 EStG, the employer can provide each of its employees with an amount of 500 euros per calendar year free of tax and social insurance for quality-assured, behavior-related primary prevention measures. In addition, he can support such measures with the small payment in kind of 44 euros per month tax-free and social security-free.

Since January 1.1.2019st, 20, the regulations for promoting health in companies (§§ 20, 20 b SGB V) have been expanded to the effect that certification for services to prevent and reduce the risk of illness (§ 2 Abs. 5, XNUMX SGB V ) is required.

As a quality criterion, this certification is also a prerequisite for the measures to be exempt from taxes and social insurance.

For the period up to the entry into force on January 1.1.2020, 52, a transitional regulation was created, listed in the application provisions of Section 4 (6) sentence XNUMX of the Income Tax Act (EStG).

With the BGF, the employer creates a win-win situation for himself and his employees. He ensures the health and ability to work of his employees, shows them appreciation and thus creates a good working atmosphere.

The employees feel they are an essential part of the company, are motivated and are less likely to be ill.

In relation to the outside world, the company experiences an improvement in its image. An essential aspect for attracting new, potential employees.

//www.bgf-koordinierungsstelle.de
//www.gkv-spitzenverband.de/krankenversicherung/praevention_selbsthilfe_beratung/praevention_und_bgf/leitfaden_praevention/leitfaden_praevention.jsp

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