Recognizing workplace flexibility as a smart business strategy, as well as a smart traffic management strategy, Virginia has passed new legislation creating a Telework Expenses Tax Credit for employers. This new law provides for a tax credit of up to $1,200 per employee, with a maximum of $50,000 per organization, for eligible telework expenses incurred during 2012 and 2013.

This is good news for both employers and employees in specific areas of Northern Virginia where large transportation and construction projects are underway, such as the Dulles Metrorail Extension. The state legislation supports telework as a strategy to help businesses reduce their real estate costs, and to help their employees become more productive and reduce their impact on air pollution and traffic congestion. To be eligible for the credit, employers must apply with the Virginia Department of Taxation by October 31, 2011.

Governor Bob McDonnell, who signed the Virginia telework tax credit into law earlier this year, said in a press release,

“Transportation is one of the key challenges facing the Commonwealth, and ensuring we have a modern and efficient transportation system is a key part of keeping Virginia the nation’s best place to live and do business…Virginia’s new telework tax credit legislation and the Virginia Transportation Challenge all work together to improve our transportation system to meet the demands of the future and help address the congestion we are facing today.”

In fact, Virginia’s telework tax credit is similar to other tax credits and telework programs that many states have adopted, and echoes what the Obama administration has championed at the federal level. Important progress was made in expanding the federal government’s use of telework when President Obama signed the bipartisan Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 into law in December 2010. That Act expanded telework opportunities for most federal workers, allowing eligible employees to work remotely from home or an off-site location. Under this law, executive agencies were required to establish telework policies, determine employee eligibility for telework, establish telework training programs for workers and managers, and provide yearly reports to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA 10), who co-sponsored the federal legislation, said:

“People who telework are very productive, it takes cars off the road, so it’s good for the environment and it helps ensure continuity of government. There are almost no downsides to telework, when done appropriately. Telework is an idea whose time has come, and so the Act brings the government into the 21st century. This is not a  philosophical issue, a republican, democratic, liberal or conservative issue. It’s an issue of pragmatism and it just works.”

Corporate Voices for Working Families believes that workplace flexibility policies and practices, like telework, help modernize the workplace so that working families and businesses can be more productive, more competitive, healthier and happier. That is why it launched a national workplace flexibility campaign in 2010, at the request of the White House, to create a broader awareness of the positive business and employee benefits of workplace flexibility. The campaign spotlights “Business Champions” of workplace flexibility, which to date consist of 55 best practice organizations across industries that have signed Corporate Voices’ “Statement of Support for Expanding Workplace Flexibility.”

By signing this Statement, the campaign’s “Business Champions” have committed to communicate the business imperative flexibility, expand flexibility within their own organizations and to build workplaces where flexibility is available to all workers. Companies that join the campaign also have access to research, business cases and educational resources to help them design and maintain successful flexibility programs.

As the nation continues to struggle with the challenges of high unemployment and anemic economic growth, tax credits and legislation to encourage workplace flexibility practices offer businesses support in maintaining a competitive advantage, and help workers balance work and life. Corporate Voices’ national flexibility campaign will also play a role in keeping the momentum for flexibility moving forward. For businesses interested in learning more about this campaign, visit Corporate Voices’ website.

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