With the news that New York City and Washington D.C. have joined the trend of municipalities requiring employers of more than 20 workers to provide qualified pretax transportation benefits, a host of human resources professionals will be greeting 2016 with proposals on how this can be done.
This is a trend that’s not going away, so even if it hasn’t hit your city yet, it’s best to start getting prepared.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials recently released a report that said while use of public transit is increasing, a whopping 77% of commuters across the United States each day drive to work alone in their cars.
This persists even though eight states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington) have all legislated tax incentives to encourage employers to offer transportation benefits to their workers.
Whether your organization’s transportation benefits policy is being pushed by legislation or it’s a voluntary commitment, it can take many forms. At its ultimate, the employer can offer free transportation to each employee in a bus or van-pool operated by or for the employee.
Other options are to offer employees a pretax benefit through a flexible spending account for commuters or to provide an employee-paid benefit program. In the latter case, the employer supplies the employer’s choice of either a transit pass or reimbursement of a van-pool or bicycling costs up to the equivalent of a public transit pass.
All plans being considered need to undergo a detailed cost-benefits analysis, and this will generally fall into the realm of the HR department. Then they need to be checked by your legal department to ensure that they comply with any regulations linked to legislated benefits.
Finally, such plans need to be implemented creatively to spark motivation for the benefits of commuting programs instead of going it alone. The flexibility of work schedules needs to be factored in to make the plans more efficient as well.
Some companies have either installed showers or contracted with nearby health and fitness centers to make them available to employees who want to bike long distances to work. Raffles and drawings and other promotions to reward participants in commuting programs have also been held. Other firms are setting up corporate accounts to encourage employees to use ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft, and Uberpool.
What will your company do?
About the Author
Roz Bahrami is a blogger for SkyPrep, an online training software. Roz regularly contributes to blogs related to corporate training, L&D, and marketing.