The main reason for using third parties is that they take out the hassle of running a cycle-to-work scheme.
They will provide websites that deal with just about all aspects of cycle-to-work schemes. Also, they can provide virtual sites that are customised for individual customers – in other words, the website looks like it’s the employers.
“Our platforms make the whole process highly automated and very easy to do,” says Rob Howes, managing director of cycle-to-work scheme specialist Cycle2Work Now. “We say if you are capable of buying a book online from Amazon, you (the employer) will be capable of runing a cycle-to-work scheme using our platforms.”
Steve Edgell, director of Cycle Solutions (Wheelies), says: “We are able to offer employers a truly end-to-end scheme and management solution. From designing and developing marketing communications, road shows, and web pages, to the administration of employee agreements and payroll details. All of this is free of charge.”
The online systems offered by such specialists should be able to handle online ordering, credit agreements, salary sacrifice details, delivery details, vouchers, as well as being able to give employers ongoing and updated management and activity reports.
Edgell says: “We have a fully secure online portal. Employees can order online using web pages that we set up to reflect the unique parameters of each scheme. They can view and accept our electronic hire agreements online.
“Employers get real time information on all employee orders. Scheme administrators are able to authorise or reject employee orders through the secure platform.”
A smaller player is Fair Care, which says it provides “complete and comprehensive administrative support” and also provides a free phone helpline to participating employees. It recently launched its Instant Cycle to Work Scheme – aimed at SMEs that want to hire just a few bikes to their employees.
Cycle-to-work schemes offered by cycle retailers
Halfords, probably the best known cycle retailer in the UK, also has a cycle-to-work offering. It is called cycle2work, and operates through a web portal. It provides customised marketing materials and “all the scheme documentation that is required”.
Halfords is also willing to provide on-site road shows, open evenings at its stores, and a dedicated helpdesk to deal with employee queries.
The cycle retailer says that its scheme has been audited by HMRC and has been modified to address issues relating to under 18s and those at or near the national minimum wage (NMW), and to meet the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act and age discrimination legislation.
Halfords says it also provides a NMW calculator – resident in its portal – that can compare NMW thresholds against applicants’ ages, current pay, and other salary sacrifice benefits they may use.
Evans Cycles brands its cycle-to-work offering as Ride2Work. In April 2010, it launched an online management system for the scheme plus a facility that will allow employees to order cycle-to-work vouchers online.
Evans adds that it has a dedicated Ride2Work team that runs a helpdesk for employers and employees. “We also offer an implementation service for large employers involving scheme marketing, on-site launches and training for HR administrators.”
General employee benefits suppliers offering cycle to work schemes
Many of the big benefits market hitters offer cycle-to-work options among their myriad of employee benefits. So, why should employers use them instead of going to a specialist supplier such as Halfords, Wheelies, or Cycle2Work Now?
Asperity provides cycle-to-work offerings through its benefits platform, Reward Gateway. This features cycle schemes alongside other benefits, such as childcare vouchers.
“This… leads to a seamless and very easy employee experience, and therefore gets increased take-up,” says Asperity. “An employee has a single log-on for all benefits, can fully sign on online – or off-line if they prefer – and are much more likely to notice the scheme because they are visiting the site anyway to take advantage of employee discounts. We don’t do cycle to work as a stand-alone option.”
Reward Gateway is integrated with Halfords’ cycle-to-work offering, though it says it does work with other cycle retailers. Asperity says its system handles almost the entire process for the employer and employee, though “the client does need to approve the applications… and then pay for the bike, but that is pretty much it.”
Benefits specialist Benefex says it offers access to cycle-to-work schemes run by all of the UK’s leading providers. These include Halfords, Evans Cycles, and Wheelies Direct.
In terms of managing a cycle-to-work scheme, chief executive Matt Waller says Benefex provides clients with a “seamless online and administration service through which they can access the scheme, plus choices and any support they need online, via email or via the phone”.
As for why employers should plump for a benefits generalist rather than a cycle specialist, Waller says: “We bring a whole market perspective to the implementation of these types of scheme. We are able to integrate them into a wider strategy and wider delivery of reward and benefits rather than being delivered in isolation as a stand-alone product or offering.”
Major benefits player Grass Roots, which recently bought specialist provider Cyclescheme, offers a scheme called bike4work. This can be taken up as part of a larger offering of employee benefits, or as a stand-alone scheme.
Besides Cyclescheme, Grass Roots works with two other suppliers, Halfords and Evans. “With Evans and Cyclescheme, participants can choose from the full range of bikes on offer in the UK, up to the value of £1,000, although participants can go above this if they wanted. With Halfords, we can offer participants Halfords’ own range of branded products as well as other ranges,” says Grass Roots head of employee benefits and rewards Paul Bartlett.
The company says it provides clients with a “complete end-to-end service, running all administration for the scheme. We organise communication to potential participants, enrolment onto the scheme, arranging hire agreements, payroll reporting and bike certificates.
“For participants, the scheme couldn’t be simpler – through our convenient ‘Select and Collect’ system the employee simply selects their chosen bike at the retailer. They then fill out a simple form, which we process and then a voucher for the cost of the bike is sent to the employee.”
P&MM Employee Benefits provides you with a ‘total’ solution for your employees: an integrated range of award-winning employee benefits; a robust employee web platform with web 2.0 functionality, outstanding account management and employee support teams, and a refreshing partnership approach to meeting your employee objectives. It runs Cycle to Work CyclePlus, a dual scheme that delivers a wide choice for employees.
Has run schemes for more than 300 organisations of all sizes – smallest take-up two employees, largest 25,000. Can offer “any bike”. Says it doesn’t offer training “as we’ve never been asked for it. Most local councils offer it”.
Repair and maintenance: All bikes come with a 12-month warranty during which repairs are free. Local bike shops charge £25 for a basic service.
Outlets: More than 1,000 nationwide participating in its scheme.
Wheelies Direct – Cycle Solutions
Has more than 500 cycle-to-work customers in the public and private sectors. Provides more than 142 cycle brands and offers a 10% discount to public sector employers such as NHS trusts and emergency services. It says training is best obtained from local councils. It provides an 18-month warranty on bikes it supplies through its cycle-to-work scheme. “We believe this is a unique benefit”. Wheelies supplies bikes directly from its distribution centre.
Has 250 clients and offers a “wide range from most manufacturers”. It offers “various” training options and bundles in some repair and maintenance options “depending on retailer”.
Has run almost 10,000 cycle-to-work schemes to employers ranging from 10 to 220,000 staff, including the NHS and various police forces. It says it supplies all bike brands available in the UK and sells 41% of all bikes sold in the country. It provides advice on training. Halfords provides a free six-week safety check, and offers annual bike care maintenance programmes with prices starting from £17.99 per year.
Has about 700 clients of various sizes including the Metropolitan Police, News International and Vodafone. It stocks about 1,600 models from 65 brands, including Brompton, Trek and Pinnacle and electric bikes. It is launching a road safety training scheme, which will be “either free or very low cost”. It provides in-store maintenance and repair for cycle-to-work customers. “Every customer benefits from a free first service”.
NHS cycle to work
Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative