Employers are struggling as much as employees when it comes to increasing gas costs and other price hikes. Employees are asking if the wages they make are enough to cover the time and cost of getting to work, while employers are wondering if there is a financial benefit to allowing employees to work from home.
As a SHRM HR Knowledge Advisor, I have received calls asking how companies can help employees through this difficult time of rising gas prices. I can remember waiting in line for hours just to get rationed gas during the gas shortage of the 1970s that plagued our nation, but today, there are more options available that may help employees weather the current gas prices. Offering commuter benefits, providing prepaid gas cards, or returning to remote or hybrid work environments are some solutions that come to mind.
Employers are always looking for ways to get ahead in the war for talent and the Great Resignation. In today’s market, many employers are having a difficult time recruiting and retaining employees, and gas prices complicates the process even further. In response, some are looking at providing commuting incentives.
- Gas cards may be a great way to offer a quick solution to combat rising gas prices.
- Transit/commuter tax benefits are a qualified transportation fringe benefit for employees to use on a pretax basis for commuting purposes.
- Bikes are another option, and some cities/towns have bike rental programs.
- Buses may run near a worksite, and some employers have employees meet at a commuter lot or other agreed-upon location to transport employees to the office.
- Ridesharing/carpooling can save employees money, time and stress.
- Apps, like GasBuddy, may assist in finding the cheapest gas in an area and offers discounts on gas through its rewards program
The IRS has rules and regulations regarding fringe benefits and pretax contributions when it comes to commuter benefits. This benefit is currently $280 per month for qualified commuter transportation, transit passes and qualified parking. Keep in mind that regular commuting time generally is not considered compensable even when employers subsidize transportation costs. Employees who bike to work may also qualify for a monthly stipend toward bike equipment and repairs.
Gift cards are equivalent to cash and therefore count as taxable income, regardless of their monetary value. Some employers eliminate taxable income by offering mileage reimbursement instead of providing gift cards.
Some employers are continuing to allow employees to work remotely and telecommute, while others have created a hybrid work program to cut down on the number of days employees need to physically be in the office. Both options may be helpful models to address high gas prices.
If you want to know more about how employers are dealing with increased gas prices or have other HR questions, we’d love to help! Give us a call or send an e-mail. We’re also available by chat. It’s one of the most valued benefits of SHRM membership!
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