A BC Ferries program to give workers $300 gift cards to encourage them to stay healthy is raising concerns with critics who say the public and the government are already paying too much for ferry service.
The publicly-owned company is planning to award as many as 3,000 employees with cards that will be redeemable at sports and recreation retailers or used to reimburse fitness centre fees.
The perk will cost BC Ferries about $900,000 and is meant to recognize employees for an “excellent safety record achieved in the past fiscal year.”
Deborah Marshall, spokeswoman for BC Ferries, says employee injury claims cost the company $3.5 million in 2006.
"Last year, those costs were reduced to $800,000, so we're taking some of those savings," she said.
"I think its a proven fact... that employees that are healthy and fit are less likely to injure themselves and less likely to take time off work due to sickness or injury. We do see this as an investment in our best assets, our most important asset which is our employees."
Marshall says this new perk won't be available for management.
Employee perk 'a terrible decision'
Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman says the move is ill-timed, especially considering the recent rate hikes.
"I'm very disappointed, it's a terrible decision," said Bateman.
"BC Ferries has raised rates by four per cent and took nearly $22 million from the government, and then broke their arm patting themselves on the back for making a profit. It's a fake profit built on a subsidy and a rate increase."
In its 2013 year-end financial report B.C. Ferries reported it made a "modest profit” of $15.5 million during the last fiscal year, reversing a $9-million loss the previous year.
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I'm not sure if it's an actual perk not to have to leave the office when you're sick, but on-site doctors ensure that this is a reality at Google's Mountain View campus. <a href="http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/lifeatgoogle/benefits/#bbb" target="_hplink">According to Google's benefits site,</a> physical therapy and chiropractic services are also available.
Japanese Toto Toilets
Is it really any wonder that Googlers have access to some of the most high-tech toilets around? <a href="http://sfist.com/2008/06/26/behold_google_offices_toilets.php?gallery6095Pic=1#gallery" target="_hplink">These Japanese johns</a> offer washing and drying of your nether regions as well as the mysterious "wand cleaning." Both the wash water and the seat itself can be warmed or cooled depending on your preference. Want to see what it's like to be a Google employee? <a href="http://www.totousa.com/Washlet/TryaWashlet.aspx" target="_hplink">On its website,</a> manufacturer Toto lists restaurants around the country where you can have your own luxury toilet experience on one of their Washlets.
Endless Lap Pools
One perk about not working at Google is that Gawker never posts a photo of you swimming <a href="http://gawker.com/217775/man-in-google-lap-pool" target="_hplink">in one of the Googleplex's lap pools.</a> The outdoor mini-pools are like water treadmills: a strong current allows the Googler to swim and swim and go nowhere. <a href="http://computer.howstuffworks.com/googleplex3.htm" target="_hplink">Luckily, according to How Stuff Works,</a> lifeguards are always on duty in case someone gets in over their head. Google is big on water sports. In August, the company installed a temporary wave pool on campus to celebrate the Google+ team, <a href="http://www.launch.is/blog/sergey-brin-surfs-at-google-beach-party-id-1-that.html" target="_hplink">reported Launch. </a> See a picture of Google co-founder Sergey Brin riding the waves <a href="http://www.launch.is/blog/sergey-brin-surfs-at-google-beach-party-id-1-that.html" target="_hplink">here.</a>
<a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2344010,00.asp" target="_hplink">According to PC Magazine,</a> Google's Conference Bike is used as a team-building exercise for new employees. It has four wheels and five riders who work together to move it around.
Google's food program may not be the most creative perk at the company, but it is probably the most valuable to employees. Everyday, Googlers get three full meals and unlimited snacks from the campus' 25 cafeterias totally cost free. <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/07/what-googles-famous-cafeterias-can-teach-us-about-health/241876/" target="_hplink">According to The Atlantic,</a> the company makes an effort to keep the meals as healthy as possible by putting vegetables in every dish, using small plates and giving healthy items prime real estate in the cafeterias. <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/07/what-googles-famous-cafeterias-can-teach-us-about-health/241876/" target="_hplink">Google has also developed a creative pricing system</a> for vending machine food (the only edibles that cost money). The more sugar and fat contained in the snacks, the more they cost, which Google hopes will be enough incentive to keep its employees from gaining weight. Image via Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettlider/" target="_hplink">Brett L.</a>
Employees who don't have the time or inclination to get haircuts in the real world can get trimmed up at Google for free. <a href="Haircuts just one of Google's employee perks" target="_hplink">According to Reuters,</a> the service is provided by a company called <a href="http://www.onsitehaircuts.com/" target="_hplink">Onsite Haircuts</a> which operates out of mobile homes that travel around cutting the hair of Silicon Valley's tech army. Image via Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwichary/" target="_hplink">Marcin Wichary</a>
Google has two things in common with McDonald's: an inclination toward primary colors and a ball pit. The Google Chrome ball pit is as you might expect a ball pit filled with plastic balls in the yellow, red, blue and green of the Google designed browser, Chrome. Check out the video above to see employees having too much fun at work.