Transport secretary Andrew Adonis will today call on employers to make it easier for staff to use cycle-to-work tax breaks as part of their rewards package, Personnel Today has learned.
Adonis will today (28 October) launch a campaign to ensure large businesses make cycling to work a “central part” of their rewards and benefits strategy. At present just 3% of the working population ride a bike to work, despite the government scheme which enables eligible employees to buy bikes and equipment tax-free.
Adonis said the figure could treble if employers offered staff better cycling amenities, such as bike parks, changing facilities and repair services. “Cycling to work should be a central part of an employer’s HR strategy. It is popular with staff, it also leads to healthier staff, more motivated staff and greater productivity,” he told Personnel Today.
More than 70 employers including broadcaster BSkyB, energy firm EON, drugs maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and numerous local authorities have today pledged their support to offer the new cycle-to-work guarantee.
Some 15% of GSK’s employees now cycle to work, a three-fold increase since it introduced the scheme.
Only a small minority of organisations currently offer the cycle-to-work scheme, Adonis admitted. “What we’re seeking to do is sign large employers up to offer a guarantee to their staff [that they also offer] a bike park, changing facilities, a bike repair service and training.”
When questioned whether the scheme would ever become popular with staff, with just 3% of employees riding to work, Adonis said: “But there are many more people who will cycle if they are given the opportunity.”
Last month prime minister Gordon Brown announced he would scrap tax relief on childcare vouchers from 2011 – the most popular benefit offered by employers- with both firms and employees set to lose out.
Adonis defended the move. “The has been a big increase in funding for childcare. Precisely how you structure that support, which is the issue to do with employers, is a separate matter,” he said.
A poll out this week by flexible benefits consultant Mercer found the most common benefit offered by UK employers was childcare vouchers (84%), followed by private medical care (75%), dental services (69%), cycle-to-work schemes (55%), and health screening (53%). Less than 60% of UK respondents said they included pensions in their benefits choice programmes. The survey interviewed 1,700 organisations worldwide.