The provision of a car in one form or another, whether it be a company car or a car allowance, is among the top 10 employee benefits, alongside a raft of healthcare provisions such as free eyesight checks and dental care.
According to research by Employment Review magazine among half a million employees, more than half of firms (55%) still offer a company car, but this number has slipped dramatically since the introduction of CO2-based tax in 2002, when eight out of 10 firms offered the benefit.
Last year, Employment Review’s research suggested the figure stood at two-thirds of firms offering a company car.
In various employment sectors, manufacturing firms are still the most likely to give employees a company car, with 75% doing so. Not far behind are private sector services, while by far the lowest is the public sector, with only 22%.
Traditionally a weak sector for the company car, many public service companies rely on Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) for employees using their own cars.
The research also looked at average mileage reimbursement rates, which stand at 16p for company cars (no doubt heavily influenced by the higher end of HM Revenue & Customs’ advisory fuel rates, which also stand at 16p) and 39p for private cars on business trips.
The findings suggest that the expected turnaround in firms bringing back the company car has yet to occur in great numbers, despite many industry pundits claiming that duty-of-care concerns – with companies wanting to ensure their employees are in insured and safely maintained vehicles – will see it happen.
However, with fleet sales already past the half-a-million mark this year and up 3.4% year-on-year, outstripping private sales by 30,000 units, the picture is still confused.
Employment Review’s figures do not take into account company size. Set against the increase in fleet sales, the findings suggest that larger fleets are offering more employees the option of a company car again – hence the healthy sales figures – as they become increasingly aware of duty-of-care concerns.
On the other hand, smaller firms, often without a full-time fleet manager, are acting more slowly to encourage drivers to return from opt-out motoring.