April 01, 2014

Commuter Policies Drive Employers to Offer More Benefits

On April 1, 2014, the Daily Journal, ran an article prepared by Labor & Employment Group Partner and Co-Chair Cheryl Orr, and Labor & Employment Group Associate Saba Shatara, on recently enacted California SB 1339, which requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to select from four commuter benefit options to offer to both full-time employees and those that work at least 20 hours a week.  The options available to employers are:

Pre-tax option: The option for employees to pay for their transit or vanpool expenses with pre-tax dollars, as allowed by current federal law (Internal Revenue Code Section 132(f));

Employer-provided subsidy: A transit or vanpool subsidy to reduce or cover employees' monthly transit or vanpool costs (up to $75 per month);

Employer-provided transportation: A low-cost or free shuttle, vanpool or bus service operated by or for the employer; or

Alternative commuter benefit: An alternative method that would be equally as effective as the other options in reducing single-occupant vehicle trips (and/or vehicle emissions).

The article also looked at potential challenges to implementation, including making sure that benefits are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner and the potential for injuries and workers compensation claims that arise from accidents that occur when workers are taking advantage of employer-provided transportation. The article went on to caution HR leaders to be mindful of the challenges of telecommuting and giving recommendations on how employers can overcome the issues they can face from nonexempt employees working remotely.

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