At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 17 – 23 July 2020

Your quick-read round up of the reward and benefits stories appearing in the press in the past seven days.

The headlines you might have missed between 17-23 July 2020.

At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 17 – 23 July 2020

 Government's Covid-19 response is missed opportunity to revisit AE
Professional Pensions: Michael Ambery argues that AE faces a potential key fork in its journey, with the government missing a prime opportunity with the Kick Start Scheme, and employers need to step up instead. Read story

TPR misses a third of performance targets as Covid hits
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) missed a third of the targets under its key performance indicators (KPIs) with Covid-19 causing a halt to some of its work. Read story

Government ponders solutions to £17bn McCloud problem
Pensions Expert: The Treasury has set out two proposals for ending the discrimination between scheme members that resulted from its 2015 public sector pension reforms, with costs of unwinding its scheme changes estimated to cost £17bn. Read story

Employers must decide if bringing staff back is safe, says PM
People Management: Johnson reveals new strategy for returning employees to workplaces from August, but experts warn leaving this to firms’ discretion could undermine worker confidence. Read story

Duke University increases paid parental leave to six weeks
Employee Benefits: North Carolina’s Duke University has enhanced its parental leave policy, offering working parents six weeks paid leave, effective from 3 August 2020. Read story

House of Lords approves Pension Schemes Bill
Employee Benefits: The House of Lords has approved the Pension Schemes Bill, which is aimed at improving protection for pension savers and ensuring more guidance for businesses. The bill will now be taken through the House of Commons later this year. Read story

HMRC publishes guidance on GMP equalisation
Employee Benefits: HMRC has published guidance on guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation, providing clarity into how schemes should distribute lump sum benefits when looking to equalise payments. Read story

Laing O’Rourke foregoes government job retention bonus
Employee Benefits: Construction business Laing O’Rourke is foregoing a £1,000 payment per employee under the government’s job retention bonus scheme for bringing back furloughed employees. Read story

Employers should 'exercise caution' around Covid-19 testing
Cover: Businesses considering whether to utilise Covid-19 testing as part of their return-to-work strategies should do so with caution, Towergate Health & Protection has warned. Read story

Nest reports 'year of growth' as Covid-19 hits investment returns
Pensions Age: Nest pension scheme funds failed to hit annual performance benchmarks during 2019/20, despite low equity weighting, according to the group's financial reports. Read story

86% of UK employees want to work remotely AT LEAST once a week
HR News: The number of UK employees who would like to continue working remotely for at least one day a week has hit 86 per cent, with three-quarters revealing they feel as productive, if not more so, when working at home – according to new research. Read story

Starmer: Working parents put in ‘impossible position’ returning to work without childcare
HR Review: Labour leader, Sir Kier Starmer has said the Government has left working parents in an “impossible position” by stating that from 01/08/20 employers can bring staff back to work if they believe it is COVID-19 safe, without, offering access to child care or clubs over the summer. Read story

Mattioli Woods recovers £10m for pension clients
Corporate Adviser: Mattioli Woods has helped clients recover almost £10m of funds that had been lost to Stadia Trustees. Read story

House of Lords paves way for greener workplace pensions
Corporate Adviser: The Pension Schemes Bill has been approved in the House of Lords and will be taken through the House of Commons later this year. Read story

Government could pocket £100bn from pensioners in proposed RPI changes
Corporate Adviser: Pension savers in defined benefit schemes could lose up to 20 per cent of their income, if government reforms to the way inflation is calculated go ahead. Read story

40% of DC schemes cannot afford to think long-term during Covid-19
Professional Pensions: Short-term actions are dominating the thinking of many defined contribution (DC) schemes as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Aon research finds. Read story

HMRC 'doesn't understand' impact of pensions tax relief, say MPs
Professional Pensions: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) must evaluate the benefits that are provided by pensions tax relief, MPs have said amid concerns the tax office does not understand the impacts. Read story

TPR increases pension standards and protection of members
Employee Benefits: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has improved pension industry standards, and protected more schemes than ever before, according to its 2019-2020 Annual Report and Accounts (ARA). Read story

Employers can use furlough scheme during contractual notice periods
Employee Benefits: Guidance updated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirms that employers can still claim for furlough payments if an employee has been put on a full notice period. Read story

Post Office reports mean gender pay gap of 16%
Employee Benefits: Post Office has reported a mean gender pay gap of 16% for average hourly pay as at April 2019. Read story

Asos repays government for cost of employee furlough scheme
Employee Benefits: Online retailer Asos is repaying the money it has received through the government’s job retention scheme (GJRS). Read story

People feel guilty about taking time for lunch, even when working from home
Workplace Insight: New research published in the journal of Psychology and Health has found that some employees feel guilty about taking breaks during the day, especially for lunch. Read story

TPO upholds additional years complaint against NHS BSA
Pensions Age: The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has upheld a ruling against NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) after a complainant alleged his pension had been damaged by a lack of information. Read story

UK employee anxiety levels increased by 240% in one year, according to research
HR News: Anxiety in employees has rocketed over the last year, according to employee engagement and survey experts, Inpulse. Read story

Paid bereavement leave should be extended for employees especially during COVID-19
HR Review: Due to the current COVID-19 situation, employees could be working whilst dealing with the death of a parent, partner or sibling which has led to the CIPD calling for the right for paid bereavement leave of two weeks to be extended to all. Read story

Treasury consults on net pay anomaly
Corporate Adviser: The Government has launched a consultation into the net pay anomaly, following a critical report by the Public Affairs Committee earlier this week on pensions tax relief administration. Read story

Nine professional trustees achieve PMI accreditation
Professional Pensions: Nine trustees have now been given the stamp of approval by the Pensions Management Institute (PMI) under its professional trustee accreditation regime. Read story

High-paid employees most likely to be able to work from home, official data shows
People Management: But experts say remote working among lower-paid roles will get a boost as businesses increase support in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Read story

Government increases pay for 900,000 public sector workers
Employee Benefits: The government is to give 900,000 public sector workers in the UK a 2%-3.1% pay rise to recognise them for their efforts during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read story

Royal Bank of Scotland extends remote working policy to 2021 for 50,000 employees
Employee Benefits: Scottish bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is extending its remote working policy until 2021 for 50,000 employees. Read story

Bellcare Domiciliary becomes an accredited living wage employer
Employee Benefits: Cumbrian care organisation Bellcare Domiciliary has been accredited as a living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation. Read story

Staff asked to pay back furlough money
HR Grapevine: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has proven to be a lifeline for hundreds of businesses and their staff in the UK, as it has allowed many employers to keep staff and secure jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read story

How businesses can support staff wellbeing as they return to work
Cover: Benenden Health’s Naomi Thompson offers some tips for employers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Read story

Squire Patton Boggs highlights member engagement challenges amid Covid-19
Pensions Age: Issues around member engagement, integration, adequacy and flexibility could be more challenging to resolve in the current economic climate, Squire Patton Boggs has warned. Read story

Older employees are happier at work
HR Review: The older the employee, the happier they will be at work. Read story

Virtual GPs could save UK business £1.5bn
HR Review: Online GPs could deliver cost savings for UK businesses of up to £1.5bn, according to a new report from Axa PPP healthcare. Read story

Switching from default could cost savers almost £250,000
Corporate Adviser: Pension pots could be almost a quarter of a million pounds smaller at retirement according to new research. Read story

Providers backlogging pension pot access
Professional Pensions: Access to the pensions savings of three quarters of savers is often restricted for more than a month, PensionBee research finds. Read story

Channelling the chancellor's creativity for long-term retirement saving
Professional Pensions: Steve Charlton looks for an equitable way to incentivise saving for retirement. Read story

Pensions tax relief reform options too complex, industry says
Professional Pensions: The options for overhauling pensions tax relief outlined in the government’s call for evidence yesterday (21 July) may still be too complicated, the industry says. Read story

Firms still operating at half pre-Covid capacity, survey finds
People Management: UK’s economic restart remains ‘in first gear’ despite restrictions easing, as employers cite consumer demand and potential local lockdowns as obstacles to opening fully. Read story

Women providing two-thirds more childcare than men during lockdown, ONS finds
People Management: Experts say working mothers have ‘borne the brunt’ of the coronavirus crisis and urge employers to take action. Read story

AO World introduces profit share scheme for 3,000 staff
Employee Benefits: Online retailer AO World is to introduce a profit share scheme for its 3,000 employees. Read story

Premaberg Holdings completes £5 million bulk annuity transaction
Employee Benefits: UK manufacturer Premaberg has completed a £5 million bulk annuity buy-in of Premaberg Holdings Retirement Benefits Plan with Just Group. Read story

16% of employees are worried about their everyday finances
Employee Benefits: One in five (16%) UK employees are currently worried about their everyday finances (June/July 2020) compared to 28% in April 2020, according to research by Nudge. Read story

Pension scams increase amid lockdown; investment fraud remains prominent threat
Pensions Age: Pension-related scams made up 16 per cent of all suspicious communications reported throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, according to analysis by Aviva, representing a 3 per cent increase since 1 March. Read story

Savers look to employers for more holistic financial support amid Covid-19
Pensions Age: The majority (72 per cent) of workers are keen for their employer to offer a workplace savings scheme in addition to a standard pension, according to research by Cushon. Read story

72% of employees want access to a workplace savings scheme
Incentive and Motivation: According to a recent survey[1], 72% of employees want their employers to offer a workplace savings scheme in addition to a pension. Read story

LCP attacks TPR’s ‘too rigid’ DB framework proposals
Corporate Adviser: The Pensions Regulator’s new framework for defined benefit (DB) schemes is too rigid and fails to take into the unique issues faced by certain schemes, risking worse outcomes for members and employers. Read story

KPMG confirms staff pension cuts and redundancies proposal
Professional Pensions: KPMG has begun a consultation on reducing pensions contributions, effecting around 20% of staff if agreed on, Professional Pensions finds. Read story

DIY investors could lose over half of their potential pension pot
Professional Pensions: Pension fund savers switching out of their default funds and making their own investment decisions could face a cut in their final pot value of up to £247,000, research has found. Read story

Master trusts set to swallow 27 million deferred pots; New task force suggested
Professional Pensions: The government must take radical and immediate action to stop small pension pots undermining the success of auto-enrolment (AE), Now Pensions says. Read story

How can employers support bereaved staff?
People Management: Following a call for the extension of paid bereavement leave, People Management explores how people professionals can help employees who experience a loss. Read story

44% of employees are more efficient working from home
Employee Benefits: Two in five employees (44%) believe they are more efficient working form home, according to research by ENEI. Read story

Scottish government offers healthcare workers 24 hour mental health support
Employee Benefits: The Scottish government has introduced a mental health helpline for healthcare and social care workers to support their mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Read story

Catalyst repays government for cost of job retention scheme
Employee Benefits: Housing organisation Catalyst is repaying back the total cost of the furlough payments it has received from the government during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read story

37% of workers unsure of how much to save for retirement
Pensions Age: Over a third (37 per cent) of working age Brits do not know what size pension pot they would require at retirement, according to research from Unbiased. Read story

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