Guidance on using the tax system for fitness at work

30 May 2018

Supporting employees to be more active during the working day can easily be achieved at no extra cost to you, as an employer. The UK’s tax system is set up to allow employees to easily access discounts – negotiated on their behalf by you – through a deduction of their net pay.

The government introduced Cycle to Work in 1999 - an annual tax exemption that allows you to loan bicycles and cycle safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. This has had a positive impact on workplace health and employee motivation and has encouraged new groups of people to take up physical activity.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and HM Revenue & Customs have produced guidance which builds on Cycle to Work, providing suggestions to help you, as an employer further support your staff to be active.

In 2016/17, 1.3 million workers suffered from work-related ill-health, which equated to 25.7 million working days lost. This has been estimated to cost £522 per employee, and up to £32 billion per year for UK business.

Helping your staff to be physically active at work can bring a number of benefits to you as an employer and doesn’t have to be difficult. Many employees struggle to fit physical activity into their busy working days but being active for just one hour can offset the potential harm of being inactive.

You can take a number of steps to help your employees become more active at work, and save money as a result of a healthier, more productive workforce. The Fitness at Work guidance provides some advice you can put into practice straight away to help your workforce become healthier and includes information on:

  • How the UK Tax system can help support more employees to be active

  • Providing your own tax-free recreational or sports facilities

  • Securing a corporate discount for employees

  • Providing your own tax-free recreational or sports facilities

  • Providing gym membership for your employees

  • No cost Benefits in Kind and Making Good

  • Salary Sacrifice or Optional Remuneration Arrangements (OpRA)