The offer of extra holidays to encourage greener travel abroad could be detrimental to SMEs, according to Darlington-based HR2day.

The scheme, which is being piloted by climate change charity Possible, encourages businesses to allow two additional holidays per year to employees who are traveling to their destinations by lower carbon methods, such as train or ferry as opposed to aeroplane.

More than 50 employers across the UK have already signed up to the scheme, which encourages staff to ‘take the scenic route’ to their holiday destination without losing any leisure time.

HR2day has expressed concerns that this could reduce the talent pool for smaller businesses, if they’re unable to offer these climate perks, and drive potential employees towards larger companies which can afford additional holidays.

Founder and managing director Nicky Jolley argues that it can already be difficult to attract employees to smaller firms and this initiative could further increase the gap between large corporations and SMEs.

Nicky Jolley said: “I think it’s a great idea to encourage people to use more environmentally friendly methods of transport when going on holiday to help reduce climate change, however in reality, SMEs just won’t be able to shoulder the burden of two extra days holiday per year for every employee.

“SMEs have to be lean on resources as a rule in order to ensure longevity, and it’s just not feasible for them to offer such an incentive.

“My concern is that if every large firm signs up to the scheme, this will make it more difficult for smaller companies to attract talent. If a potential employee sees two great jobs, one of which could offer two extra days out of work and a chance do their bit for the environment, which job are they going to pick?

“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy and many have been working tirelessly throughout the COVID crisis to keep going. The last thing they need is to be hit by something else that could detriment them in the long run. There must be another way to help reduce climate change without immediately ruling out smaller employers.

“It would be fantastic if there was a happy medium which allowed staff to choose the method of transport that is ethically preferable to them without hitting the employer in the pocket at the same time.”

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