Workplace Benefits – Don’t Underestimate Their Value
An attractive employee benefits package can be key to recruiting and keeping high calibre employees and is a useful tool in remuneration discussions giving an employer the competitive edge when recruiting. An attractive benefits package shows an employer is committed to looking after the team and is financially secure enough to offer such perks. Employees who see the value of the benefits offered are less likely to look elsewhere.
Employees rightly place a high value on competitive contribution levels to a workplace pension. Many companies choose to pay more than the minimum Company contribution requirement of 3% to keep ahead of their competitors in attracting and retaining the right employees.
Employers and employees are increasingly recognizing the benefit of salary exchange to maximise contributions to a workplace pension. Salary exchange is the exchange of salary for a non-cash benefit which can be used to enhance pension contributions with the addition of the tax and National Insurance Contribution saving. Salary exchange is often described as a “win-win” for the majority.
Although useful you should be aware that using Salary Sacrifice essentially reduces your gross salary which can impact upon your borrowing limits and may affect the level of state benefits. As your salary is effectively reduced, this could impact the level of Death In Service that is available. Salary exchange is simple in theory but the practical detail of ensuring it is implemented correctly can be challenging. This is an area in which Five Wealth can provide guidance.
Workplace Pension Schemes should be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain fit for purpose. It is not as daunting a task to switch providers and introduce salary exchange as you may think.
A death-in-service scheme is a cost-effective way of providing a lump sum benefit, usually a multiple of salary, to employees who may not otherwise have life cover. On death, the tax lump sum payment gives support to the family left behind at a difficult time. Insurers cost a scheme, primarily, based on the number of lives to be covered, the level of cover, occupation and postcode. Once costed, insurers usually guarantee the cost for a maximum period of two years. At the end of the two-year period the cost of the scheme can increase substantially. Just as you would with a personal policy, you can negotiate better terms with the existing insurer or consider switching to a provider who can offer better terms.
Many providers now provide free ancillary benefits as part of the overall death-in-service package such as remote GPs, mental health support, physiotherapy, medical second opinions and life, money & wellbeing support. It is important to ensure these benefits are communicated to employees as a valuable additional benefit.
For those employers who really want to stand out from the crowd, group private medical and group permanent health insurance schemes offer additional benefits highly valued by employees. Private medical insurance not only benefits the employee but potentially their family. The employer benefits because health issues can be seen and dealt with more quickly giving peace of mind to the employee and a fast return to work.
A group plan does not require employees to take medical tests and can be much more cost effective, offering immediate cover for family members and to individuals who may otherwise find it difficult to obtain cover due to their age and medical conditions.
Permanent health insurance ensures the continuation of a proportion of an employee’s salary if they are unable to work – the average maximum is 60% of earnings. It’s called “permanent” because the insurer cannot cancel the policy no matter how often benefits are claimed. Mental health conditions, such as stress, depression, and anxiety, are all usually covered under the policy. A claim stops when the member has recovered sufficiently to return to work, reached retirement age or dies.
Employers can choose to offer group private medical insurance and group permanent health insurance to a select group of employees, usually key employees, to keep costs down.
Employers should consider the suite of benefits most important to them and their employees. When considering which product and provider to use it is important to review the whole market and regularly review the chosen product for suitability and to keep costs down.
Employees should be regularly reminded of the benefits package via annual meetings and presentations. Employers may also consider offering “one to one” annual meeting and “at retirement” advice as an added service.
Financial advisers can add value in this area, reminding you and your employees of the key benefits, regularly reviewing costs, ensuring compliance with legislation and being available to respond to queries that may arise.
In conclusion, it’s worth reviewing employee benefits, especially compared to what is offered by your competitors as this will be key to attracting and retaining high calibre employees. A good benefits package can boost morale, loyalty, and productivity amongst your existing team and, if you are looking to grow your business, having a benefits programme can help you attract and retain the best talent.
If you would like further information on anything covered in this article, please get in touch.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate employee benefits