‘Cafetaria plan’ pushes bike ahead for commuting Belgians

Belgian employees with flexible remuneration are increasingly opting for cycling. This emerges from an analysis by HR service provider SD Worx of so-called cafeteria plans, a personalized pay package with extralegal benefits that companies now offer.

More than one in ten employees opt for a bicycle, for example. Individual pension savings and extra holidays also remain very popular. The installation of charging stations for EVs has also doubled in the last year.

Bicycle almost as popular as car

With the cafeteria plan, the bicycle is now in fifth place of most popular choices – in 2019 it was still in ninth place. While the bicycle (11%) still must just beat the car (13%), they are almost on par. But while the percentage of the company car is declining slightly – in 2021, it was still at 16% – so the popularity of the bicycle is rising.

Indeed, according to SD Worx, employers often include the value of the company car in the budget, giving you more say in the choice of your company car. For example, you can then opt for a smaller car than the one you are entitled to and spend the freed-up budget on other benefits, such as a bicycle. After three years, for example, you can also buy the bike privately and lease a new one for yourself.

However, an analysis of the data of 15 000 employees with a cafeteria plan in 2022 from competitor Acerta showed that the segment mobility solutions lost popularity last year. Mobility, including the choice of a bicycle or (company) car, fell from 17,2% to 12,4%.

On the other hand, 17 592 new speed pedelecs were registered in Belgium last year, or a growth of 42% or 5 215 units. In December in particular, there was a strong increase in the number of leased bicycles, possibly due to the introduction of cafeteria plans in many companies and the interesting kilometer allowance for employees.

Larger choice package

As a matter of fact, the proportion of employees with a cafeteria plan rose to 59% last year, although only a minority of employees (5,7%) have access to it. The number of employers did increase by 25%, as it remains an interesting formula in the war for talent.

Each year, the choices in the pack are also increasing, including medical check-ups, well-being, reimbursement of gym or sports club inscriptions, and more mobility choices, such as shared e-scooters, in addition to shared bikes and shared cars, as well as electric charging stations.

Pension savings and extra holidays are in the shared first place, with one in five employees (22%) opting for this benefit. Multimedia comes third (at 14%), as more people now invest in a home office. In this respect, young workers overwhelmingly choose multimedia and extra holidays, while older workers use their flexible pay for mobility expenses.

Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) is currently working on a major tax reform. The corporate world is concerned that the reform would also include taxes on venture capital and flexible HR instruments such as options, warrants, and tax breaks in cafeteria plans.

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