What is a lunch benefit and where can you use it?

A lunch benefit is a valuable employee benefit, and in practice, you can think of it as every fifth meal purchased with a lunch benefit being free for you. Despite its name, the lunch benefit is not limited to lunchtime; you can use it whenever it suits you best, regardless of the time of day or day of the week. In this blog, we dive into the benefits of the lunch benefit from the beneficiary's perspective.

How does the lunch benefit work?

Lunch is one of the most used employee benefits in Finland. Through lunch benefit, the employer supports the employee's on-the-job meal, making it more affordable. The goal of the lunch benefit is to support employee well-being. Lunch benefit promotes diverse eating options, provides a meaningful break during the workday, and enhances the workplace atmosphere when colleagues have lunch together.

Lunch benefit can be used as a payment method at various restaurants and cafes. Still, it also functions as a payment method for food delivery services and grocery stores. When using the lunch benefit in grocery stores, you must know you can only purchase products prepared and/or packaged in-store. We will give you some practical examples later in this blog.

The employee's deductible in the lunch benefit is 75%. This means that when you use the lunch benefit, your employer covers 25% of the cost of each meal paid for with the lunch benefit. Therefore, you pay a lower price for the meal when utilizing the lunch benefit. Some employers offer the lunch benefit as a fringe benefit, where typically no self-payment is required.

By using the lunch benefit, you can make savings. Most employers provide the benefit in full, with the maximum allowed amount for a single payment set at 13.50 €. If you use your lunch benefit every workday of a month (21 days), with each lunch priced at 13.50 €, your monthly savings would be 77.80 €, and your annual savings 779 €. This demonstrates the potential for savings compared to situation where you would pay your lunch fully from you own pocket, hopefully encouraging you to make the most of this employee benefit.

Where can the lunch benefit be used?

Lunch benefit is commonly used at different restaurants, lunch places, and cafes. You can also utilize your lunch benefit on a busy day at places like Jungle Juice Bar or Bär Bar for a smoothie and/or sandwich. While traveling, you can rely on locations such as ABC gas stations and many other service stations within the network. Remember that the service provider must belong to Smartum's payment network. You can easily find all Smartum partners using the location search tool.

Additionally, the lunch benefit can be used for meals ordered through food delivery services, such as selections from Wolt, and to pay for certain products at grocery stores.

What can you purchase with the lunch benefit at a grocery store?

With remote work commonplace nowadays, it's good to remember that the lunch benefit can also be used at grocery stores. A good rule of thumb is that you can pay for products prepared and/or packaged in-store with the lunch benefit at a grocery store. Therefore, you can pay with the lunch benefit for items such as:

  • A salad bar dish
  • Items from a bakery, like a sandwich to accompany a salad
  • A meal made at the service counter, grilled product, or salad dish
  • A serving from a sushi bar
  • A packaged meal from the store that does not require heating or separate preparation
  • A sandwich made and packed by the store
  • Take-away coffee or tea

It's important to be aware of the limitations. The lunch benefit cannot be used for individual raw ingredients, ready-made meals, or frozen meals at a grocery store.

Where can I use Smartum lunch benefit

How does the lunch benefit support overall well-being?

Utilizing the lunch benefit can promote well-being in various ways. Important factors include:

Maintaining energy: Regular, balanced meals during the workday are the fuel that keeps your energy levels high. This not only ensures you perform at your best throughout the day, but also leaves you with the energy to pursue your other interests and hobbies.

Improved focus: A consistent meal schedule can help maintain better focus during the workday. If you notice your attention waning towards the afternoon, try adding breaks and scheduling a proper lunch break in your calendar.

Stress management: The lunch break allows some time for relaxation during the workday. Concentration weakens when working continuously for a long time, and breaks are an excellent way to maintain your work rhythm and make it more efficient. Lunch breaks and microbreaks can help in stress management and support overall well-being.

Social aspect: Remember to consider the power of a shared lunch. It's not just about the food, but also about the opportunity to connect with your colleagues on a personal level. This can foster a positive work environment and strengthen team dynamics.

Have you tried virtual lunches with friends? It's a great way to meet friends over lunch in a busy life. Pick up your lunch from a local store or have it delivered by a delivery service like Wolt.

Healthy eating habits: A well-balanced diet is a cornerstone of your well-being. Why not challenge yourself to include more vegetables on your plate for lunch than usual or challenge your team to find the healthiest food in town?

How to pay with Smartum's lunch benefit?

Like other benefit types, Smartum's lunch benefit is a personal benefit that can only be used for your own meals. You can pay for lunch fully or partially using the SmartumPay app. When using the SmartumPay mobile app to pay, the minimum and maximum amounts follow the tax authority's regulations based on a fringe benefit. In 2024, the minimum payment is 8.50 €, and the maximum is 13.50 €.

If your lunch benefit has a deductible share, you may have access to the OwnWallet feature. In this case, when using the lunch benefit, the deductible portion (75%) will be deducted from the OwnWallet directly during the SmartumPay transaction. Note that the money added to the OwnWallet does not increase the Smartum benefit available for use; it is only for paying the deductible portion.

When using the OwnWallet feature, you must always have an amount equivalent to the deductible share in the OwnWallet during the lunch payment. More balance can be easily added to your OwnWallet via a bank transfer. Read more about the OwnWallet here.

To pay for the lunch benefit, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the SmartumPay app.
  2. Find the desired location where you want to make a payment.
  3. Enter the payment amount and proceed.
  4. Confirm the payment by swiping and showing the created receipt to the cashier.

If the meal costs more than the maximum amount (€13.50), you can pay the excess with another payment method, such as a debit card. If the Smartum benefit balance is below the minimum amount (€8.50), you cannot use the SmartumPay app to pay for the meal. The benefit will be available again when the Smartum benefit account is topped up.

You can find all lunch places within Smartum's network here.

Do you have a favorite place that's not yet in our network? You have the power to change that. Let us know using the form found at the bottom of this page, and we'll do our best to include it in our network.

Enjoy your tasty lunchtime!


Inspiration for how to use Smartum benefits

We share inspiration and offers on how to use benefits through social media @smartumfi. You can find tips on using benefits from our partners by browsing social media using the hashtag #Smartum.