Through Decrees N° 2.832 and 2.833, published in the Official Gazette N° 6.296 on May, 2, 2017, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro increased the monthly minimum wage by 60% and the “meal benefit” calculation base to 15 tax units1 per day. Although the meal benefit (known as “Cestaticket Socialista”) must be paid out in cash or credited to workers’ payroll accounts, the electronic meal cards that have already been issued will remain valid until December 31, 2017. Both increases, which apply to the private and public sectors, became effective on May 1, 2017.

Minimum Wage Increase

The new minimum wage has been set at 65,021.04 Venezuelan bolivars (VEF 65,021.04) per month and 2,167.37 bolivars (VEF 2,167.37) per day. The minimum wage for apprentices has been set at 48,354.96 Venezuelan bolivars (VEF 48,354.96) per month and 1,611.83 bolivars (VEF 1,611.83) per day.

Cash Payment

The minimum wage must be paid in cash. No other type of payment can be counted as part of the salary.

Fixed Amount for Mixed Salary

The fixed amount for an employee receiving a mixed salary2 cannot be less than the new minimum wage. For example, if an employee receives a fixed salary plus a variable salary or a fluctuating salary, this amount must not be lower than VEF 65,021.04 per month.

Minimum Amount for Pensions and Special Bonus for Pensioners

The new minimum wage will also apply to pensions paid by the Venezuelan public administration and the Venezuelan Social Security Institute (“Instituto Venezolano de los Seguros Sociales” or IVSS). Additionally, pensioners will receive a special bonus (known as the “economic war” bonus) of 19,506.31 Venezuelan bolivars (VEF 19,506.31). Therefore, pensioners’ minimum income is set at 84,527.35 Venezuelan bolivars (VEF 84,527.35).

Part-Time Work

An equivalent fraction for time worked will be paid pursuant to Article 172 of the Venezuelan Labor Law (known by “LOTTT,” the labor code’s acronym in Spanish).

Impact over Social Contributions and Employee Benefits

The economic impact of the minimum wage increase on social contributions and employee benefits under the Venezuelan labor regime is as follows:

Benefits

Caps for Benefits

May 1, 2017

Day Care

5 times the minimum wage

Workers who earn a monthly salary equivalent to or lower than VEF 325,105.20 are entitled to a daycare benefit. Employers must pay 40% of the minimum wage per month, which is the equivalent of VEF 26,008.42, to comply with the benefit. Payments are made directly to the institution providing the child care and are not deemed part of the employee’s salary.

Contributions

Caps for Contributions

May 1, 2017

Social Security

5 times the minimum wage

Both employers and employees must contribute monthly to IVSS. The employer is required to withhold and pay the employee’s contributions. All contributions are computed as a percentage of the employee’s normal salary up to a maximum of 5 minimum monthly salaries (VEF 325,105,20). Employees must contribute 4% of their salary and employers must contribute between 9% and 11%, according to the occupational risk the law assigns to the employer’s business.

Unemployment Insurance

10 times the minimum wage

Contributions are also calculated based upon the employee’s monthly salary. Employers must contribute an amount equal to 2% of the employee’s normal salary and must withhold the employee’s contribution, which is 0.5%. The maximum taxable base for these purposes is 10 minimum monthly salaries (VEF 650,210,40).

Sanctions

Payment of a salary lower than that established by the Decree, or payment after the weekly or bi-weekly pay schedule, will result in a minimum fine of 120 tax units (VEF 36.000,00) to a maximum of 360 tax units (VEF 108.000,00).

Increase to the “Meal Benefit” Calculation Base

The new calculation base for the payment of the "meal benefit" is 450 tax units per month (i.e., the equivalent of 15 tax units per day times 30 days per month). This represents a single daily amount of 4,500.00 bolivars (VEF 4,500.00) and a single monthly amount of 135,000.00 bolivars (VEF 135,000.00).

Payment in Cash or Credit of the Meal Benefit

Pursuant to the “Meal Benefit for Workers Law,” the employer is required to provide a balanced meal to its employees every work day. Although this obligation may be satisfied by providing the meal through a dining service, the law also allows employers to provide the benefit through electronic meal cards. The electronic meal cards cannot exceed the single monthly amount discussed above.

In addition to increasing the single monthly amount, Decree N° 2.833 establishes that the meal benefit will be paid out in cash or credited to a worker’s payroll account. On a separate pay stub, employers must notify employees of the meal benefit amount that is being credited or paid in cash and the working days to which it corresponds, also noting that this benefit is not part of the worker’s salary. Further, employers cannot deduct any amount from the meal benefit, unless the employee has authorized such reduction.

For employers opting to credit the meal benefit directly onto workers’ payroll accounts, the Decree allows for a 30-day window to bring the company’s payroll systems into full compliance. Additionally, tickets or electronic cards that were already issued shall remain valid until December 31, 2017.

Additional Payment for Companies with Dinning Service

Starting August 2016, companies that provide the meal benefit through a dining service are also required to pay employees an additional monthly amount of 135,000.00 bolivars (VEF 135,000.00). This amount is intended to be temporary, and will be provided until the economic emergency ends in Venezuela.

Although this requirement continues to exist under the recently-issued Decree N° 2.833, the payment must be made in cash or credited to workers’ payroll accounts. An exception applies if the payment was already issued through a meal benefit ticket or electronic card. In such cases, as stated above, the tickets or electronic cards shall remain valid until December 31, 2017.

Sanctions

The “Meal Benefit for Workers Law” provides that an employer's failure to pay this benefit will result in a fine of 10 tax units (VEF. 3,000.00) or 50 tax units (VEF 15,000.00) per affected worker.