The starting signal for sustainable bicycle mobility for officers has been given. On 14 April, the publication appeared in the Belgian Official Journal and Flemish local authorities can opt for bicycle leasing through flexible remuneration. The municipality of Destelbergen has been offering a company bicycle for some time now. Tom Elegeert (Climate and Sustainability expert) explains.
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“We preferred not to wait for the new legislation and offer our employees bicycle leasing via o2o earlier. At the start-up a few months ago, there was still no tax advantage for the local authorities. As a solution, we contribute 20 euros per month via the local authority. With 720 euros over the entire lease period, this is a nice financial boost. We are not the only ones, other authorities are also applying this provisional measure”, Tom explains.
Tax benefits for the public sector
Let’s take a look at the recent changes in legislation:
- The approval by the Council of Ministers on 12 March and the publication in the Belgian Official Journal on 14 April 2021 allow provincial and local officers and OCMWs to exchange end-of-year bonus, cycle allowances and/or holidays.
- For the staff of the Flemish Government, there is already an approval in principle in the Council of Ministers of 11 December 2020, but no official approval and publication in the Belgian Official Journal yet. It is waiting for the advice of the social partners and the Council of State. According to the provisional regulation, they would be able to exchange (part of) their end-of-year bonus and/or a maximum of 11 annual holidays.
Getting started with the new legislation
The municipality of Destelbergen is eager to apply this new regulation for a sustainable bicycle mobility. “We are currently seeking legal advice from the NSSO and the tax authorities on how we can implement this in practice. The option via an end-of-year bonus seems the most interesting to us”, explains Tom. “But first we want a clear answer to various questions. What, for example, about people who get a promotion during the period of bicycle leasing? Or people who are ill for a long time and cannot build up an end-of-year bonus?”
Thanks to the new regulation, there is maximum freedom of choice. The local authorities are given autonomy to develop the rules on bicycle mobility. And the employees themselves choose whether they accept the bicycle offer, now or later.
Bicycle fun for everyone
“We expect to be able to resolve the legal hurdles by the end of this year and to start full-scale bicycle leasing in early 2022”, Tom explains. Currently, only 4 people have started bicycle leasing at the municipality of Destelbergen. The vast majority of the 150 employees who have access to a company bicycle are waiting for the new practical arrangement and the tax benefit. A huge potential! “Most employees live nearby and find cycling to work the ideal solution. We want to get as many people as possible on their bikes and are planning a major communication campaign about bicycle leasing”, says Tom. “A presentation about driving electric bicycles is also on the agenda to get everyone on the road safely.”
Bicycle leasing: more than a tax advantage
Tom is already convinced: “In addition to the tax benefit, you are also entitled to the bicycle allowance. So you can easily earn back the cost of bicycle leasing. And by leaving your car in the garage more often, you also save on costs. Add to that the health benefit and the ecological impact, and you know: leasing a bicycle is the best solution!”
The local authorities are pleased to be able to step up a gear when it comes to sustainable travel. Attracting and rewarding employees with a company bicycle fits perfectly within their modern personnel policy.
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