Legislation to offer a tax incentive to businesses that let employees telework will be heard next week by the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

“This legislation would reduce by far the single largest cause of traffic, daily commutes, and allow rural employees to work for urban employers,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim and the bill’s sponsor. “This can strengthen rural economies while easing traffic in urban areas and reducing pollution.”

Senate Bill 6016 would apply in the case of employees who are regularly scheduled to work at least 12 days per month, not including Saturdays or Sundays, to perform their normal duties and responsibilities at locations other than their traditional workplace.

“Three types of people will benefit from this: business owners, employees, and anyone who commutes to and from work on congested roads,” Van De Wege said. “This provides a business benefit, an employee benefit, and a public benefit.”

The tax incentive would apply to telework expenditures that exceed the average annual telework expenditures made by the employer in the preceding three calendar years and allow a tax break of $500 per year per employee.

The bill stems from an idea suggested by a constituent, Pat McCauley of InsideOut Solutions, a destination marketing company whose employees have little need to interact with each other.

“A lot of employees just sit at a desk all day and don’t talk to anyone, so why go to an office? It was pointless,” McCauley said. “This way they don’t have to drive to work, they don’t have to eat out, they don’t have to pay for child care or buy clothes, and they have a flexible schedule.”

SB 6016 is scheduled to be heard at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 18 in Senate Hearing Room 4 in the Cherberg Building.