What is a cycle to work scheme?##
The Cycle to Work scheme is an initiative implemented by countries like the UK and the Netherlands. It aims to promote cycling to and from work and to reduce environmental pollution.
Being physically active is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity can help protect you from dangerous diseases like obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes, and arthritis. Higher rates of health problems are associated with a sedentary corporate lifestyle.
Regularly riding your bicycle is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of such health problems. Cycling to work is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your day-to-day routine.
Cycling has many health benefits such as-
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Increased muscle strength and joint mobility
- Decreased body fat levels
- Improved posture
- Decreased stress levels
- Prevention of health diseases
A cycle-to-work scheme allows employers to provide interest-free loans for bikes and safety equipment to their employees as a tax-free benefit.
Employers from all sectors can implement a tax-exempt loan scheme for their employees. The scheme does not apply to self-employed people.
Through the cycle to work scheme, employees effectively ‘hire’ a bicycle for a set period. They pay for the hire by a deduction from gross salary via a salary sacrifice arrangement. Also, at the end of the hire period, they have the opportunity to buy the bike from the bike shop.
In simple words, employers can pay for bikes and equipment for their employees. The employee then pays back through salary sacrifice payments of up to 12 months.
How does the cycle-to-work scheme benefit companies?
As the employees remain healthy and fit, an initiative like this works in favor of the employers. Productivity increases as absenteeism decreases. The employers also save on parking costs.
In many countries, various incentives are provided to employees if they choose to cycle to and from work.
In the Netherlands, tax credits are offered as incentives for its population to cycle to work. Every Dutch citizen who rides a bicycle to work gets a preset amount per km, and the amount is also tax-free.
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. There are more bicycles than people. Cycling accounts for almost half of all journeys to work in the city of Amsterdam alone and is the reason why the country calls itself “the bicycling nation of the world."
There are many benefits of a cycle-to-work scheme by employers. They are -
Benefits to the Environment
Bicycle riding minimizes fossil fuel usage. It is a pollution-free mode of transport. Billions of tons of poisonous gases are released into the atmosphere, causing it to be extremely polluted. Vehicles are the main reason behind this. Bikes reduce the need to build, service, and dispose of cars.
A bicycle is exceptionally eco-friendly, causing no harm at all to the atmosphere. When the majority of people start using bikes, a drastic change shall be witnessed.
The pollution level will decrease automatically and, as pollution levels decrease, the quality of life increases. People will be able to live healthier lives. Cycling contributes to emission reductions by reducing congestion and improving traffic flow in the world's major cities.
Incorporating cycling into the daily lives of your employees would be of great use to your corporate social responsibility.
Improved health levels among employees resulting in increased productivity
Cycling helps to build muscle, burn fat, strengthen your legs, lower blood pressure, and increase endurance. It has also been proven to be an extremely effective way to alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. Furthermore, cycling clears your mind and also improves your mood.
Cycling, as with many types of aerobic exercise, improves sleep quality and makes an individual more heart-healthy. Those who incorporate cycling into their routine live longer.
Furthermore, Cycling doesn’t just build muscle mass in your legs – it also strengthens them in your brain. Cycling regularly can improve blood flow through your brain, which can enhance thought processing and memory. As a result, productivity will be significantly increased.
Employer branding and employee welfare
Cycling to work is beneficial for employer branding. Thus, it may help your appeal to potential recruits. Additionally, it denotes concern for the health of an organization’s employees.
Saving up on money
Cycling is the cheapest mode of transportation, second only to walking. It's way more practical over average commuting distances.
Due to reductions in the amount of National Insurance Contributions, employers can save 13.8% of the total value of salary sacrifice.
For instance, in countries like Japan and China, cycling is one of the most preferred modes of transport. As a result, the cost of transport systems is meager, and industries can manufacture goods at lower prices and additionally invest more in their production systems.
Reduced need for parking spaces leading to lesser congestion
Bicycles need minimal parking space for your company as compared to cars, and this increases cost savings for employers.
The cost of bikes and accessories can be treated as capital expenditure. Thus, employers can claim capital allowances against it.
A cycle-to-work scheme, like various other salary sacrifice schemes, can help improve a companies’ employee retention abilities. It can act as one of the primary reasons why employees may postpone changing jobs.
How should employers implement a cycle-to-work scheme?
A cycle-to-work scheme should be seen as part of a series of steps to promote healthier journeys to work. The reduction of environmental pollution should also be promoted by making cycling more attractive.
Employers should encourage a cycle to work scheme by-
- Providing safe, secure, and accessible bicycle parking facilities for all employees who want them.
- Providing high-quality locker facilities for all employees.
- Counteracting the cost of cycling equipment and save on the tax through the cycle to work scheme.
- Providing bicycle repair services for cyclists on site.
- Inspiring employees to cycle more by providing reward and incentive programs to achieve more targets.
Summing it Up
Cycling to work offers several benefits to employers and employees alike. The UK and the Netherlands have already started initiatives to implement cycling into the lives of employees.
Moreover, it should be every companies’ goal to include a cycle to work scheme for its employees. Doing so will help increase productivity and also improve the quality of life of its employees.
Environmental pollution will also decrease significantly. As a result, the world will become a better place to live, and workplaces will be better places to work.