Can the employer give free lunches to his employees?
Yes, the employer can provide free meals to the employee (or pay the meal directly).
In this case the meal is considered being worth the legal lump sum of €4.8 per meal (aka €9.6 per days for 2 meals).
However, this lump sum per meal is not exempted from social contributions.
Social security (URSSAF) considers it as a benefit in kind. Therefore, the basis of the social contributions must be increased by the number of meals paid to the employee time €4.8.
You can find the URSSAF explanation here:
Also, be extra careful. As the collective bargaining agreement can state a higher amount per lunch, you may have to pay much more than just contributions to €4.8 per lunch.
If the employee pays part of the meal, the employer part can be exempted from social contributions. However, to do so, the employee contributions must be at least 50% of the lump sum.
Here is the text from the URSSAF :
One other option is to provide lunch vouchers to the employee. This process is very common in France and well thought of.
Don’t hesitate to contact French Payroll Expert if you have any question on setting up lunch vouchers.