Belgium has long been crying out for a better travel-to-work solution – one that supports corporate responsibility without damaging pockets. A new scheme aims at cutting traffic congestion through flexible travel options. Used the right way, we think it can enhance employee engagement while improving your corporate image! Here’s how…
It is no secret that Belgian’s roads need cleaning up. Transport accounts for a quarter of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. And with one in three Belgian workers driving a company car, that leaves a lot of room for improvement!
Responsible companies project more attractive images to consumers and shareholders alike, thereby improving their bottom lines. Today’s businesses understand that it is in their interests to get on board with climate protection. But even with the best of intentions, it hasn’t always been easy for employers to do the right thing.
In 2018, the Cash for Car or ‘Mobility Allowance’ scheme promised to reduce the number of employees driving company cars. The incentive was an annual ‘allowance’ granted to those who gave up their company car. The cash could be used to buy a smaller vehicle, an electric bicycle or a public transport pass, and was subject to the same tax and social- charges benefits as a company car. Sounds good, right?
Sure. But the devil is in the detail.
The way the remuneration was calculated meant that the scheme simply did not offer enough benefits for either employee or employer. Exchanging the car for cash only made economic sense for employees with a short daily commute, a relatively expensive company car and adequate public transport. And for employees, the scheme was fraught with hidden costs.
Needless to say, the uptake was low. Even at Skipr, we struggled to see a way to make it work for management. In any case, it was annulled earlier this year, when the Constitutional Court found the law to be discriminatory and likely to be ineffective at keeping cars off the roads!
Say hello to the Mobility Budget!
Like the Cash for Car scheme, the new law applies to employees who are currently using company cars. Participants can swap the car for a sum of money that is calculated in a much more generous way than the defunct mobility allowance.
This time, the change opens up a myriad of choices for participants. Employees can freely devote the budget to the means of transport of their choice. The scheme is so flexible that it covers the cost of living closer to work, the cost of teleworking, and can even be exchanged for cash.
So, instead of curtailing employees, it actually opens up opportunities for them to live more sustainable lives in whatever way they choose. This is a big plus for HR managers! Studies show that work flexibility and autonomy are essential for maintaining a happy, committed workforce. And we all know that employee engagement is key to successful management.
On the employer side, the Mobility Budget is not riddled with hidden costs like the Cash for Car scheme was. This makes the scheme a great way to increase the profile of an organisation, boosting its corporate social responsibility, company culture and employee engagement!
So… used the right way, the Mobility Budget can be used to support happy workers, happy employers, and a thriving workplace! To make the most of the scheme, employers should learn more about how it works, and how they can make it easy for their employees to organise the right travel choices for them!