Water and drinks for employees, social security contributions and income tax

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The employer is obliged to provide all employees with drinking water or other drinks (coffee, tea, mineral water, juices), regardless of the type, place of work, and weather conditions. This obligation results from par. 112 of the Regulation of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of September 26, 1997 on general provisions on health and safety at work. The said provision further states that the quantity, type and temperature of said drinks must be adapted to the working conditions and the physiological needs of the workers. Therefore, the question arises whether water and drinks for employees should be subject to income tax and contributions?

Delivering drinks under particularly arduous conditions

The above obligation also applies to employees working permanently or temporarily in particularly arduous conditions, and the employer in such a case, in addition to water, must also provide other drinks. The rules for supplying them to people employed in difficult conditions are laid down in the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of May 28, 1996 on preventive meals and drinks.

With the above of the legal act stipulates that water and drinks for employees should be provided by the employer. Their type and temperature should be adapted to the conditions of work, for employees:

  • in hot microclimate conditions, characterized by the value of the thermal load index (WBGT) above 25 oC,
  • in a cold microclimate with an air cooling power index (WCI) above 1,000,
  • when working in the open at an ambient temperature below 10oC or above 25oC,
  • for work involving physical effort resulting in an effective energy expenditure of the body over 1,500 kcal (6,280 kJ) in men and 1,000 kcal (4,187 kJ) in women during a shift,
  • at workplaces where the temperature, due to weather conditions, exceeds 28oC.

Water and drinks for employees are income from the employment relationship, but ...

The value of the drinks received from the employer is the employee's income from the employment relationship. However, is it necessary to take an advance on income tax on this type of benefits? The answer is - no, because this income is exempt from tax in accordance with Art. 21 sec. 1 point 11 of the Personal Income Tax Act.

In accordance with the above-mentioned provision, benefits in kind and equivalents for these benefits, due under the provisions on health and safety at work, insofar as the rules for granting them result from separate laws or regulations issued on the basis of these laws, because they are free from personal income tax. A similar rule applies to vouchers, vouchers or coupons received from the employer, entitling them to obtain meals, food or non-alcoholic beverages on their basis, if the employer, despite his obligation under the provisions on health and safety at work, is not able to issue employees for meals, groceries or soft drinks.

These types of benefits are also not subject to contributions, as it results from par. 2 clause 1 point 6 of the Regulation of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of 18 December 1998 on detailed rules for determining the basis for the calculation of contributions for retirement and disability insurance and art. 81 sec. 1 of the Act of 27 August 2004 on health care services financed from public funds.

To sum up, water and drinks for employees obtained from the employer pursuant to the provisions on health and safety at work are not subject to income tax and ZUS contributions.