April 24, 2014
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Bay Area Air District) recently approved the establishment of the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program (Program) to implement the requirements of California Senate Bill (SB) 1339. SB 1339 was signed into law in 2012 and is now codified in California Government Code section 65081. The Program is on a pilot basis through December 31, 2016.
The Program requires employers located within the geographic boundaries of the Bay Area Air District (those located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma Counties), that have 50 or more full-time employees within the Bay Area, to offer a commuter benefit option to their "covered" employees no later than September 30, 2014.
For purposes of determining whether or not an employer has 50 or more full-time employees, and thus subject to the Program, the following rules apply:
The commuter benefit must be offered to all "covered" employees, which are defined as employees who worked an average of 20 or more hours per week within the previous calendar month, excluding seasonal or temporary employees working 120 days or less per year.
How to Comply
Employers may choose one (or more) of the following four options to comply with Program requirements:
Coordination with Local Commuter Benefit Ordinances
Employers in the cities of San Francisco, Richmond, and Berkeley, as well as those within the jurisdiction of the San Francisco International Airport, are also subject to local commuter benefit ordinances. While the substantive provisions of these local ordinances are very similar to the requirements of the Program, the local ordinances apply to employers with either 10 or more employees (Richmond and Berkeley) or 20 or more employees (San Francisco and San Francisco International Airport) nationwide that have a worksite in the relevant city, versus the Program's 50 minimum full-time employee threshold.
Thus, employers subject to any of these local ordinance requirements should also be in compliance with the Program's requirements. However, to avoid duplication of effort, these local jurisdictions have agreed that all employers that are subject to the Program (i.e., employers with 50 or more full-time employees in the Bay Area) should report to the Program. Employers with less than 50 full-time employees will still need to comply with the local ordinance requirements applicable to their worksite location(s).
Next Steps for Employers
Employers subject to the Program must select and implement their program by September 30, 2014. Accordingly, employers should undertake the following action items:
Program information and employer outreach staff assistance is available by clicking on the applicable links on the Program's website, or by simply calling "511" and say "Commuter Benefits" at the first prompt. Detailed information about the Program and employer requirements also can be found in the "Employer Guide" at https://commuterbenefits.511.org/docs/employer_guide.pdf, and in a "Frequently Asked Questions" document at https://commuterbenefits.511.org/docs/faq.pdf.
For additional information, please contact your Burnham Benefits Consultant, Burnham Benefits at 949-833-2983, or firstname.lastname@example.org.