Beyond the usual annual treats there is a whole raft of benefits that employees are entitled to – and some bosses, and staff, may not be aware of all the perks they can take advantage of.
CEO at Perrys Chartered Accountants, Stewart Pope explores some of those on offer and how employees and employers can make the most of them.
There is a long list of benefits, and expenses, available to employees – so many that HMRC lists them as an A-Z on its website.
Among the most popular, and well known, are:
- Tax free bikes
- Childcare vouchers
- Eyecare vouchers
But benefits can also cover counselling services, employee suggestion schemes and long-service awards.
Benefiting from benefits
The tax free bike scheme has been running for several years throughout the UK and has proved popular in many industries. It was introduced to encourage people to cycle to work, improving their health, cutting pollution and giving a boost to businesses as they benefited from a fitter workforce.
Known as the Cycle to Work Scheme it allows employees to buy a new bike from one of 2,100 retailers nationwide tax-free, saving between 25 – 42 per cent. Employers also benefit as they enjoy National Insurance savings of up to 13.8 per cent.
There are different packages available to employees, which means they can also buy accessories to go with their new bike.
Childcare vouchers allow employees to pay for childcare from their pre-tax salary, which over the course of a year can save parents thousands of pounds. Mums and dads can get up to £55 a week from the vouchers, depending on their earnings and when they joined the scheme.
The vouchers are administered via employers so if you’re a worker who could benefit from the scheme, talk to your HR director to see if they’re offered. Firms can operate the scheme themselves or use a voucher company to take care of the paperwork for them.
If your employees use computers they can claim costs to help pay for regular eye tests and, in some cases, the glasses they wear. All employers are legally obliged to pay for eye tests for staff who use VDU equipment.
If they have to wear glasses specifically when using a computer they can claim for the cost of those too. Staff who need glasses for other tasks, such as driving or watching TV, will have to pay for their glasses.
While many employee benefits are backed by government, it is down to the individual employer to administer them and take care of any associated paperwork.
This will invariably include the need to complete forms to ensure your tax returns and records are kept up to date. There are different forms and returns attached to different benefits, more details of which are available on the HMRC website www.gov.uk.