All posts by Katherine Heffernan

Saga maintains DB pension scheme

Saga has made changes to its defined-benefit pension scheme to contain costs and tackle the scheme’s deficit while keeping it open to both existing and new members for the long term. The company has also improved the terms of its group personal pension. These changes have been informed by the company’s strategy of helping customers and employees lead better lives in retirement. At the same time, the company has facilitated access to other financial products to support staff in managing savings priorities and is helping staff to make more informed decisions when it comes to saving for the future.

Saga is a provider of holidays, financial products and care services aimed at the over-50s. The company, which has more than 4,000 staff in the UK, has long offered a defined-benefit (DB) scheme, the Saga Pension Scheme (SPS), to all its permanent employees and just under half (48%) of the workforce are members. It applies its strategy, of helping people to ‘lead better lives in retirement’, to its employees as well as its customers and regards its pension provision as integral to this. The company also considers a DB pension scheme to be an attractive proposition in recruiting and retaining staff when many other companies are closing theirs.

However, in the two years from January 2014 to January 2016 the actuarial valuation of the DB scheme deficit – the gap between the value of investments and what it has to pay out in current and future benefits – had increased from £15.6 million to a forecast £50 million, while the total cost of future benefits had risen from 18.6% to over 30% of pensionable salaries. Saga therefore had to consider whether it could afford to keep the defined benefit scheme open.

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Bonus schemes: a flexible means of linking pay to performance

Bonuses remain an integral – albeit discretionary – element of the reward package on offer at many employers, particularly within the private sector: according to the ONS, the combined value of all bonuses paid in Great Britain reached a record level of £46.4 billion in 2016/17. Our recent survey of 30 mostly large employers across the manufacturing and primary sectors and private sector services looks at the design and typical payout levels of 41 bonus schemes – from comparatively simple all-employee schemes to more complex arrangements covering senior managers (eg Board members or executive team members).

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Call centre employers start to see upward pay pressure

This year’s survey of pay and conditions in contact centres has found that median pay settlements have increased slightly this year. Meanwhile, last year’s improvements in recruitment and retention may only have been temporary. Continue reading Call centre employers start to see upward pay pressure

NLW leads to significant pay increases in retail

The introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) in April 2016 has led to a 5.3% increase in median minimum pay rates for established staff across retail. Many employers have revised their pay structures to accommodate this increase, typically by eliminating starter rates or harmonising premiums for unsocial hours. At £7.20, the median rate for the whole sample equals the NLW, though food and non-food retail firms tend to pay higher on average than employers in catering/hospitality. Many firms are paying the new minimum to all staff, despite it being a legal requirement to only pay it to staff aged 25 or over. Continue reading NLW leads to significant pay increases in retail

IDR survey: gender pay reporting at forefront of employers’ plans for 2017

The latest IDS survey of employers’ pay intentions, received almost 160 responses from a wide range of organisations. The survey, which looks at reward plans for 2017, suggests a stable picture in terms of pay increases and headcount levels. While new regulations on gender pay reporting already appear to be informing reward strategy, the vote to leave the European Union has had a negligible effect on pay decisions so far.

Influences on reward strategy
Looking at the main factors influencing reward strategy for 2017, the top three concerns show the difficult balancing act employers face in monitoring paybill costs without detrimentally affecting staff morale. Keeping labour costs in check was the most significant factor, rated as ‘very important’ or ‘important’ by all but one respondent, while recruiting and retaining key staff was the second most important issue, regarded as important by 94% of organisations, closely followed by employee engagement and motivation (90%). Continue reading IDR survey: gender pay reporting at forefront of employers’ plans for 2017