Wednesday, June 22, 2011


In the Czech Republic (and Slovakia), lunch is normally the most important meal of the day. Most restaurants offer a discounted lunch consisting of soup and an entree from a menu of 2 - 4 different entrees.

Around 60 - 70% of employees receive stravenky (meal vouchers) as a benefit from their employer. It is the most common benefit offered to employees in the ČR & Slovakia. The employee and the employer split the cost of the stravenky. The employee pays 45% and it is deducted from the monthly net salary. The employer pays 55% and gets a tax deduction up to 70 Kč (~$4) per voucher.

The vouchers can be used at participating restaurants including most canteens, fast food chains and some grocery stores. The vouchers can only be used for food items, so no alcohol or tobacco can be purchased. The maximum amount of change that can be given back from a purchase is 5 Kč (30¢).

Places that accept vouchers have stickers on the door similar to credit card logo stickers. There are several companies that issue stravenky in various denominations. They sell the vouchers to the employers and then buy back the redeemed ones from restaurants at a discount.

As part of the proposed tax reform, the tax breaks given to companies providing vouchers would be revoked and employees would instead receive an annual tax break of 3.000 Kč (~$178). I don't know how well this will go over because these vouchers are like "sacred cows" to many Czechs. I've never received stravenky as a benefit so it doesn't make any difference to me.

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