Back to the office: How to deal with all the financial headaches and costs of the big comeback

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With tomorrow marking the start of the gradual return to the office, many workers are in a big adjustment. For those returning to the office for the first time in a year and a half, significant costs and financial dilemmas await.

o When you get back to the office, what headaches and financial costs can you expect – and how can you best cope with them?

“Large” office bills

Some of the biggest bills faced by workers returning to the office include child care expenses and travel expenses. Do what you can to control these costs. Take advantage of the Taxsaver program (where the tax break reduces the cost of your ticket) if you use public transportation. Check if a Taxsaver ticket purchased during the pandemic is still valid. Be aware that a Taxsaver ticket may not be as tax-efficient for you if you only return to the office a few days a week, rather than full time. Those with hybrid work weeks (where some days are worked in the office and some at home) should therefore do the math and check if a Taxsaver ticket will save them money before they buy.

Use the cheapest mode of public transport available to you. Get a Leap Card as well, as this will get you the cheapest public transport fares.

Those who commute to work should use an electric or hybrid car if they are driving, as that should save running costs – but make sure the car you choose is convenient for your commute. Otherwise, choose a fuel efficient car.

“If you can, carpool, ride a bike or use public transportation,” said Karen O’Reilly, founder of Employflex.

Make sure you claim a tax refund under the bike-to-work program if you buy a new bike.

Reducing the cost of childcare will probably be more difficult, given the lack of places. However, check to see if you are entitled to any discounts (such as sibling or business discounts), shop around, get the two years of free kindergarten you are entitled to under the protection program and early childhood education and ask for a national daycare. Plan grants to which you are entitled.

“When you get back to the office, be more aware of your daily expenses,” O’Reilly said. “Bring a packed lunch and your own coffee. If your workplace is very crowded with clothes, ask that you be allowed to wear more casual attire in the office.

Right to a free parking space?

You may be considering driving to work – rather than taking public transport – because you’re nervous about catching Covid on a bus, tram, or train, especially during the hours. crowded peak. It’s worth asking your boss if you can get a parking space at work if so – but be aware that your employer is not required to provide you with one. “Being nervous about getting on a bus is not a reason for having a parking space at work,” said Richard Grogan, employment lawyer at Richard Grogan & Associates.

According to Grogan, the only situation where your boss may need to provide you with a parking space is if you have a disability. “Your boss should make reasonable accommodation for you if you have a disability – and that can include a parking space,” Grogan said. You may also be able to advocate for a parking space at work if you are immunosuppressed.

Those who are not entitled to a parking space at work will have to budget for parking costs – if they choose to drive to the office. Parking fees add up – you can pay up to € 40 per day to park in Dublin City and around € 30 per day to park in Cork City. For example, it costs € 36 to park from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays at Q-Park Dawson Street, Dublin (if you pay by the hour), € 25 per day to park in Euro Car Parks in the city center. Dublin Congress and € 29 to park for up to eight hours at Q-Park Town Hall, Cork. Walk around your parking lot to ensure the cheapest option possible. For example, you can park for € 15 per working day in St. Mark’s Church near Trinity College, Dublin.

Getting a weekly, monthly, or quarterly rate for your parking lot can cost less than paying by the hour. You can also get a cheaper rate if you book in advance. Those working in Dublin and other big cities can find free parking in the suburbs – although it can be outside someone’s house, so make sure you don’t hog the parking space of another person if you choose to do so.

You can avoid parking fees altogether if you can ride a bike or take an electric scooter to and from work.

Check that the pension plan is the same

A number of employers could not afford to pay employer contributions to company pensions during the pandemic. Such a loss of valuable employer contributions – when your boss saves in your pension plan on your behalf – will be a big blow to pension glitches, especially if an employer doesn’t pick up those contributions when you return to the office. Employer contributions make it easier for you to build up a reasonable pension fund – without these contributions it will be more difficult to do so.

There isn’t much you can do if your boss tells you they won’t be able to make employer pension contributions for the foreseeable future.

“There is no legal obligation – except a contractual obligation – for an employer to offer a pension plan,” said Peter Griffin, director of APT Workplace Pensions. “Technically, an employer can say that they had hoped to restart pension contributions but cannot afford it – as long as this is communicated to staff, there is not much that an employee can do. Employment contracts often include a clause stating that an employer can terminate the employer’s pension contributions and wind up the pension scheme at any time. If, however, an employer unilaterally decided that it was going to stop paying employer pension contributions because they could no longer afford them – but had never told the members of the pension plan that they would was going to do so, it would have been a violation of a number of pension rules.

To compensate for any definitive loss of employer contributions to a company pension plan, increase your personal contributions or pay Additional Voluntary Contributions (supplementary pension payment). Make sure, however, that you do not increase your contributions to a level that does not allow you to receive full tax relief for pensions. Also, be sure to ask your employer to restart your own personal contributions to your company pension – if you put them on hold during the pandemic and haven’t reactivated them yet. The same goes for any Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) you have.

On your tax return, check if you have lost other retirement benefits, such as death in the course of employment (a non-taxable lump sum paid by your employer if you die while employed by the company) or income protection insurance (which pays a percentage of your income if illness or injury prevents you from working), especially if employer pension contributions have been reduced.

This also applies to other office perks you had before Covid – don’t assume everything will be the same as before the March 2019 office exodus.


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