Parking tax plan could land HR with industrial relations nightmare

HR professionals have been warned to expect employee relations headaches if councils get the green light to charge businesses a ‘parking tax’.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is consulting on proposals that would allow local authorities to introduce a workplace parking levy to raise extra cash. Nottingham City Council is just one of a number of authorities awaiting approval to introducethe levy, which could see employers charged as much as £350 per space in a bid to reduce city centre congestion.

Roger Speakman, HR manager at Nottingham-based Imperial Tobacco, warned HR colleagues the tax could be coming to a city near them in the next 12 months.

“If it’s applied in Nottingham, then other employers shouldn’t be surprised to see their council jumping on the bandwagon,” he told Personnel Today. “Rather than a congestion tax, it’s an additional burden on businesses and in the current economic climate, it could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

The firm would be forced to pass the cost of the levy on to staff, which would sour industrial relations and lead to higher pay claims, Speakman claimed.

Peter Gibson, head of public affairs at Alliance-Boots, which employs thousands of people at its Nottingham headquarters, said the levy would cost up to £1.5m per year.

“Add to that an increased administrative burden for HR, terser union negotiations and a serious recession, and it’s obvious this is the wrong time to apply this,” he said.

Jo Spilsbury, head of HR management and strategy at Nottingham City Council, said in preparation for the scheme the council was reviewing the number of free car parking spaces it offered tostaff, and was also encouraging alternative commuting options.

The consultation on the so-called parking tax will close on 5 March,with the DfT expected to make a decision shortly afterwards.

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