Travel allowance policy
Last reviewed on 25 February 2020
Here at Co-op there might be times that your work location changes because of a change we’ve made – like a restructure, office move or if we need you to move to a different store or branch due to business needs. If this happens, then we may give you a travel allowance to help with any extra costs of travelling to your new place of work.
Just so it’s clear, this Policy doesn’t apply if you choose to change your role or your work location. Sometimes we advertise roles for a general area without giving a specific location, and then tell you where you’ll be based. In these circumstances, this will be treated as if the Co-op has moved your work location as you’ve had little choice in where you’ll be based. Your manager will tell you if you’ll get a travel allowance in your situation.
This Policy replaces all previous travel allowance policies. But don’t worry – if you’re already getting a travel allowance we won’t be changing this.
Your ordinary commute is the journey you make most days between your home and permanent workplace. Usually you’d expect to pay for your commute yourself, but if Co-op changes your work location and this increases your commute substantially, we’ll pay you an allowance to help with the additional costs.
You shouldn’t claim expenses for your ordinary commute – so if you’re claiming expenses for other business mileage, you should always deduct your ordinary commuting mileage first. There is more information about this in the ‘mileage’ section of the Expenses Policy.
Different types of work location
You need to think about what type of workplace your new location is, as your travel allowance will be different depending whether you’ve been moved to a new permanent work location, a new area or region, or if you’ve been moved on a temporary basis.
• Colleagues with a fixed work location
If your normal workplace is one specific location - like an office, food store, or funeral home – and Co-op moves you to another fixed workplace, then you might be able to get a travel allowance.
If your commuting distance increases by 10 miles or more each way, you’ll be paid a travel allowance for the difference in cost between your old and new commute. The allowance will be paid for 2 years following the move to your new workplace.
• Colleagues moved on a temporary basis
If you’re moved to a new location temporarily and you’ll be there for less than 2 years, you can claim expenses for your travel to this workplace.
But if the length of your assignment is uncertain, it changes to be longer than 2 years, or becomes permanent, then you shouldn’t claim expenses but might be able to have a travel allowance instead.
As soon as you know you’ll be in the new location for more than 2 years, you should stop claiming expenses and speak to your manager about a travel allowance. It’s important you don’t claim expenses if your assignment is expected to last more than 2 years, as we need to make sure we report tax and National Insurance correctly to HMRC.
If you do need a travel allowance, you should follow the rules for a fixed work location or field based colleague depending on your role.
• Field-based colleagues
If you’re field-based then your place of work will be a defined region or area, rather than a single location. If you live within the boundaries of your region or area (‘on patch’), you’ll be able to claim expenses for all your business mileage from home.
If Co-op changes things and you are moved ‘off patch’, you’ll get a travel allowance for the commuting distance between your home and your area boundary.
If you already live ‘off patch’, your current commute will be the distance between your home and your area boundary, which you can’t claim expenses for. If we change the area of your patch and your commuting distance increases, you’ll get a travel allowance for the difference between your old and new commute. You can then still claim expenses for all business mileage while on your patch.
Your travel allowance will be reviewed annually until you are either back ‘on patch’ or your commuting distance changes for another reason, like you move house.
How to claim the allowance
You’ll need to complete the Travel Allowance Form, and this will then be sent to your manager for sign-off. Your manager might ask to see copies of receipts, tickets, or other supporting documents to confirm the information you’ve given. Once they’ve approved it, it will go to Payroll to be processed.
• Current cost
First, you need to tell us what it currently costs you to travel to work. We’ll ask you how many miles you drive to work and whether you’ve got a Co-op car, car cash or are using your own vehicle – as mileage is paid at different rates for these based on HMRC guidance. We’ll ask you whether you pay for car parking where you currently work and how much this is every day.
If you travel to work by public transport, we’ll ask you to tell us the actual cost of your bus, train or tram ticket. If you drive to the station, tell us about your mileage, any car parking costs and your train cost.
We’ll also ask you to tell us how many days a year you travel to your current place of work. So, take off any holidays, bank holidays, non-working days and days you work at home or in other locations – and this is the figure you need to give us.
• New cost
We’ll then ask the same questions about how you’ll travel to your new work location.
At Co-op we take the safety of colleagues very seriously and don’t encourage long car journeys every day. So we’ll usually only give travel allowances for commutes of up to 100 miles a day round trip. We’re also committed to reducing our impact on the environment. So, we want our colleagues to use public transport to travel to work wherever they can.
If using public transport is an option for you, the amount of the travel allowance you’ll get will be capped at the cost of using public transport, minus what it currently costs you get to work. You can still choose to drive to work - but if this cost is higher, you’ll get the travel allowance up to the cost of using public transport. If it’s not possible or practical for you to travel to work using public transport, then we won’t apply the cap.
How the allowance will be paid
Your allowance will be paid each pay period. Payments made through payroll are subject to tax and National Insurance deductions. The payment will be ‘grossed up’ to cover the tax and NI, so that you’ll receive the actual amount agreed.
The payment is non-pensionable and isn’t included when we calculate bonus, overtime payments, sick pay or holiday pay. The allowance is non-contractual and can be amended or withdrawn at any time.
Things to think about
We think that a move of less than 10 miles is a reasonable change to your commute. However, we know that everyone’s circumstances are different, and people travel to work in different ways – so a move of less than 10 miles may be more significant to some people.
If your work location is moved by less than 10 miles but you feel significantly impacted by the cost of your new commute, speak to your manager. In exceptional circumstances you may be able to receive a travel allowance, but this would need to be agreed by your manager and People representative.
Multiple location changes
There may be times when you’re already getting a travel allowance and Co-op changes your work location again. We’ll need to recalculate your allowance to make sure you’re still getting the right amount, so you should talk to your manager if this happens.
If your commute increases by another 10 miles or more, your travel allowance should be recalculated and the 2 year time limit restarted. If your commute is increased by less than 10 miles, the travel allowance can either be kept the same, or recalculated and paid up to the current allowance’s end date. Any extension to the allowance would need to be agreed by your manager and People representative.
If your commute gets shorter following a change in work location, your travel allowance will be reduced or stopped accordingly.
Other changes in circumstances
It’s your responsibility to tell your manager about changes to your circumstances that would affect your travel allowance – for example, if you move house or change the way you travel to work. If you don’t tell them and your travel allowance is overpaid as a result, we’ll recover the amount of the overpayment through payroll.
We’ll also review your travel allowance if you voluntarily change jobs or work location, or change your working pattern.
If you go on family leave while getting a travel allowance, you’ll continue to receive the allowance as normal. But if you’re already on family leave when your travel allowance is agreed, the allowance will start when you return to work.
If you need further support
If you need to claim expenses rather than a travel allowance, there’s more information in the Co-op Expenses Policy.
Remember, we offer interest-free season ticket loans to help with the cost of using public transport. Details can be found on the ‘Help with travel costs’ section of the Co-op colleague site.
If you have any questions about travel allowance, please speak to your manager. If managers need advice they can contact ER Services.