How does it work?
Carpooling is catching on, as its benefits far outweigh the minor inconveniences it causes. One of the drawbacks of carpooling is the fear of carpoolers not being able to get a ride back home if there is a situation that tantamount to an emergency such as
- Attending to some unexpected eventuality such as a crisis or family illness that requires their presence at home
- Staying back after hours for any reason including overtime
- Carpool driver unable to drive carpoolers back home
In the above circumstances, carpoolers can opt for the Guaranteed Ride Home Program (GRH). The program, backed by statutory authorities and implemented by employers, helps members to get a ride back home by a transportation method that may include public transport, fleet car, rental car or taxi.
Members who use alternative transportation systems such as walk, cycle, public transport or carpool to work are eligible for GRH. Employers can set a cap on the amount of subsidy per single trip and also the number of free trips permitted in a year.
What is the benefit of a Guaranteed Ride Home Program?
The benefits of the GRH are several, and they include principally the offer of a ride back home for up to 4 times in a year with a cap of $80 subsidy per trip for the employees. The subsidy on GRH is subject to fringe benefits tax (FBT). Employers can get an exemption, if the total taxable value of all unclassified benefits to each employee, including guaranteed ride home payments, is less than $300 in each quarter for each employee with a maximum of $22,500 per annum for all employees as per the Inland Revenue Department circular on FBT.
How to implement a guaranteed ride home program?
Employers can implement the program by following the guidelines issued by the Greater Wellington Regional Council in its Workplace Travel Tool Kit.
- Set a cap on the subsidy per trip depending on the mode of transport
- Set a cap on the number of times in a year this subsidy is available to the employee
- Vary the rate of subsidy for different classes of emergencies or missing ride home – for instance, a real emergency such as family illness or crisis can qualify for higher subsidy whereas missing ride home due to overtime is eligible for a lower subsidy
- Issue advisories as to the nature of emergencies and missed circumstances under which a GRH subsidy applies. They can also specify conditions under which such benefit is not allowed
- Offer different GRH transportation methods – public transport, fleet car, rental car or taxi
Since GRH subsidy is subject to FBT and GST, employers need to file returns as per provisions of the different acts.
The GRH is a program that encourages employees to use transportation methods that can contribute to lesser vehicular induced air pollution, congestion on road and traffic jams.