Wholegrain Digital is proud to be the first member to become a Climate Perks accredited employer. This means that we will give paid travel time where employees elect to travel via land or sea rather than via air. The paid travel time can be claimed for additional hours spent traveling, in accordance with the provisions of this policy. The maximum travel time that can be reclaimed is two working days in any one ‘travel time year.’ The travel time year is the same as our annual leave year, namely from 1 April to 31 March.
Why sustainable travel is important to us
Despite only 5% of the world’s population ever having stepped foot in a plane, flying is the fastest growing contributor to climate change. On current trends, aviation alone will account for 25% of UK carbon emissions by 2050.
We are committed to supporting a cultural shift towards more climate friendly travel.
Wholegrain Digital is committed to having a positive social and environmental impact and recognises that staff have an important role to play in responding to the urgent challenge of climate change.
We aim to encourage our employees to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to sustainability behaviour.
Research indicates that converting one or more return trips to train, coach or boat is likely to be the most powerful action we can take to reduce our carbon footprint.
To help staff make sustainable travel choices, we offer paid travel time, subject to certain criteria.
It is important to note that this is not additional annual leave, but additional time to undertake sustainable travel. Whether employees take up the scheme or not, they remain entitled to the same amount of annual leave. Please refer to Benefits and Leave in the Granary for further information.
For the purposes of this policy, sustainable holiday travel means travel by land or sea, that has a significantly reduced environmental impact compared to journeys to the same destination by plane.
The policy excludes travel within mainland Great Britain.
Journeys that are already quicker, or comparable in length, by land or sea compared to flying are excluded. In practice, this will primarily mean journeys originating in London to direct Eurostar destinations (e.g. Paris, Brussels, Lille, Amsterdam).
Ferry crossings that are less than 90minutes in duration (this, therefore, excludes Dover: Calais crossings).
Qualifying sustainable holiday travel does not include single-passenger car journeys (unless low-emission), nor does it include road-trips with campervans or caravans. It does not include holidays which are journeys in themselves, e.g. long-distance cycle rides, cruises or walks – unless travel is required to or from start and endpoints.
Includes travel between mainland Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Ireland and British islands (e.g. the Isle of Man, Scilly Isles, Shetland Islands, Channel Islands).
Eurostar destinations where the origin is outside of London (e.g. Manchester to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Amsterdam).
Qualifying ferry journeys include Harwich: Esbjerg (Denmark), Harwich: Hook of Holland (Netherlands), Portsmouth: Bilbao (Spain) and any other cross-channel services in which the crossing is longer than 90 minutes
The original version of this policy was only valid for return train journeys and not single journeys. This has now been changed so that one way journeys are now valid.
Travel time can be claimed for up to two return trips per travel time year. These can be taken in half day blocks.
For example: If your trip takes 6 hours you will be eligible to claim for a full day of leave, however, If you trip takes 4 hours, you will only be eligible to claim for a half day of leave.
Employee qualifying criteria
- You must have passed your probation period at Wholegrain Digital prior to applying for this scheme.
- In order to ensure the continuing operation of our organisation, we need to cap the number of days’ out of the office for any one employee. As a result, you will not be eligible for the scheme if you have taken certain other forms of time off in the 12 months prior to the date of your travel time application. This is discretionary and will be decided on a case by case basis
- If you take parental leave (e.g. maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and unpaid parental leave), you will still qualify for travel time on a pro-rata basis, when you return from parental leave, in respect of the relevant leave year. For example, if you return from leave and there are five months of the travel time year remaining, you will be eligible to apply for 5/12 of the travel time allocation.
- You will not qualify if you are absent on parental leave for the whole travel time year.
- If you work part-time, you will qualify for travel time on a pro-rata basis.
Procedure to Apply
Where an employee takes a train or other public transport rather than a plane for an overseas holiday in accordance with this policy, Wholegrain Digital will reimburse the difference in travel time (to the nearest hour), up to a maximum of two working days (16 hours). This arrangement is available for each employee once in each travel time year 1st of April to 31st of March.
You must be able to demonstrate that your planned journey is not already quicker or the same in length when compared to flying to the same destination. You will be required to add 2 hours to your flight time to factor in airport check in times.
In order to request travel time, you must complete the Climate Perks Approval Form. This will notify our People and Office Manager as well as the Directors who will then approve on a case-by case basis.
You should attach to the form:
- The travel ticket for the sustainable travel.
- Evidence (such as a printout from an internet travel site) of the time taken for air travel, plus two hours, in respect of both the outward and the return flights, to allow for check-in time.
- A calculation of the difference in time between your journey and the plane equivalent.
Spreading the word
We hope to start an ongoing conversation about sustainable travel.
Once you have returned from your holiday, you will be asked to share some feedback from your journey with colleagues. This may be via the Monday team calls, a section in the team newsletter or you can even write a blog about your trip. We’d love to see your photos of travel by land or sea!
Planning a low-carbon journey
There are lots of resources online for planning a journey by land or sea within Europe and beyond. Here are a few to get started with.
- www.Seat61.com – comprehensive rail travel guide, primarily focused on Europe but with advice on destinations further afield as well
- www.raileurope.com – easy pan-European rail ticketing website
- Byway – a non-flight travel company specialising in European rail holidays
- ecopassenger.org – enables comparative estimations of journey length and environmental impact of different travel modes across Europe.
- Rome2Rio – enables comparison and booking of different travel options.
- Trainline.com – great for booking rail journeys through the UK and Europe
You can find out more about the Climate Perks scheme and facts and stats about flying and low-carbon travel at www.climateperks.com.
Abuse of the scheme
Any employee found to use the scheme in a fraudulent way will be subject to Wholegrain Digital’s disciplinary procedures.
This policy is provided at the absolute discretion of the company directors and may be changed at any time.