Should your employer pay for your commute?

If you’re reading this article, we can reasonably assume that you don’t enjoy your commute.

Frankly, who can blame you? The effects of these journeys to and from work are far reaching – with the longest ones having a detrimental impact on mental health, productivity, and morale. A bad commute also eats into our lives in more ways than you might think. Research from data intelligence firm Inrix demonstrates that drivers in Cape Town spent an average of 49 hours sitting in congestion during 2017. Clearly commuting is a problem – but is there anything your employer can do to ease the pain?

Can your employer pay for your commute?

Unfortunately, employers are unlikely to pay for your commute. However, according to non-profit organisation Mywage, there are some exceptions:

• In the event your commute is a particularly long one, you could receive assistance with your travel expenses. However, this should be agreed with your employer and included within your contract.
• If travelling for a business reason, such as to a meeting, an employer should pay a travel allowance. Similar to the above however, this is a private agreement arranged prior to the trip.
• If working unsociable hours – between the hours of 6pm and 6am – your employer must ensure transportation is available between the workplace and your residence.

If none of these options apply, there are alternatives. For example, there is a range of good HR advice out there which can be used to make your commute easier.

Can you change your hours?

Flexible working hours are now quite common throughout the world. In the UK, for example, research demonstrates that almost 90% of those employed full-time either work flexible hours or would like to do so. This practice involves modifying the hours you work to better suit your routine. For example, starting work late means a later finish but missing out on the traffic caused by other commuters. It’s unlikely employers need their staff to work the typical 9 – 5. Offering a flexible working policy should make the commute more bearable and result in you being happier and more productive.

Can you change the mode of transport?

Sometimes, employees will have no choice but to commute by train or car. However, it might be possible for you to get to work by bike. This mode of transport can potentially get through the rush hour traffic faster and is healthier for the rider. It is for this reason that many organisations are offering cycle-to-work schemes – with benefits and prizes for those workers who give up their cars.  

What if the weather interferes with your commute?

Although sitting in traffic is hardly enjoyable, adding bad weather into the mix can make the commute much worse. As well as being hazardous, weather is one of the main reasons for employee lateness – with research suggesting its accountable for 26% of incidents involving late staff members.

Therefore, instead of accepting the ramifications of bad weather, employers should create a severe weather policy to help their businesses continue running smoothly. For example, in the event of heavy snow, employees could have the option of working from home or making up lost hours at another point. In this situation, you could avoid a nightmarish commute entirely.

Tom Chapman is an SEO Specialist for HR experts Peninsula.

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