Should an employer pay for a parking permit for an employee on maternity leave?

Q:

I have an employee who is going on maternity leave. When she is working I provide a permit for her parking in Chumbury town centre. The permit has run out should I renew it or wait until she returns?

A:

1. If this is re-imbursement of an expense on company business (eg if Chumbury is not her normal place of work) then you do not have to meet the expense if she is not incurring it. That argument would be easier to sustain if it is a working days permit rather than a 7 day permit. It would also be easier if it is not a permit and you pay for the parking as and when required.

2. However, if the permit is a “perk” of her contract (as a company car would be if private use is included) then you should provide the permit. Furthermore if she works in Chumbury, and you provide the permit just so she can park near work (which you are not obliged to do) that would add credence to the idea that the permit was part of the contract and it should continue to be provided.

As you can see, it might not be clear cut. You could try running option 1 above and see if she complains. After all she might not have a private use for a Chumbury Town Centre parking permit while she is on leave, so it would have no value. But if the permit is provided because she normally works in Chumbury and if she does protest, then you would be safest to renew the permit. This would be especially so if it is a 7 day permit. You could try fighting her complaint but, subject to precise detail, you would most probably lose.

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