Saturday, October 21, 2017

The UK’s Ride to Work Scheme

Sexy female on bicycle

Workers who cycle to their jobs in the UK are going to need some big pay envelopes: big enough to fit a whole bike, that is. “Look out for a brand-new bike in your pay packet,” says the government-sponsored ad for the new Cycle to Work initiative. While it’s not meant to be taken literally of course, cyclists across the pond are wondering if this could be the monetary break they’ve been waiting for.

The Cycle to Work scheme is a government program in England that encourages its residents to bike to work, with the goal of easing traffic congestion, lowering pollution, and simultaneously improving health country-wide. The Cycle to Work program (widely called a “scheme”, a word that sounds unsure to American ears) allows employees the long-term loan of bicycles, and the ability to purchase bike equipment tax free.

The scheme is called a win/win for employees and employers, with employees reaping the benefits cash-wise, and employers having a healthier staff with a guaranteed way to work every day. The plan is not without its pitfalls, though. Employment law and tax rules make the scheme complicated for some businesses to implement. For the Cycle to Work initiative, that means outsourcing.

Most of the companies who are making use of Cycle to Work have outsourced the implementation to a third party. That means that, for employees, you play by the rules as dictated by the third party. For some that means you can only choose a certain brand of bike, often by a maker who is sponsoring the program.

Could a Cycle to Work incentive work in the US? If the bugs are worked out to avoid corporations reaping the best rewards of the plan, then yes, but one thing is certain: the word “scheme” needs to go.