At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 24-30 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 24-30 July 2020.

At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 24-30 July 2020

£1.4bn Vodafone to LifeSight ‘biggest ever’ DC to MT switch
Corporate Adviser: Vodafone has moved its £1.4bn single-trust defined contribution (DC) scheme into LifeSight, boosting its assets under management to £8bn, in what is believed to be the biggest ever transfer of an unbundled DC scheme to a master trust. Read story

Coronavirus causes surge in employers setting up workplace savings schemes
Professional Pensions: Almost all (92%) employers would consider setting up a workplace savings scheme in addition to a pension in light of recent market turmoil caused by Covid-19, Cushon finds. Read story

Nuffield Health reports mean gender pay gap of 4.3%
Employee Benefits: Nuffield Health has reported a mean gender pay gap of 4.3% for average hourly pay as at April 2019. Read story

St George’s University of London provides full sick pay for security guards
Employee Benefits: Security guards at St George’s University of London (SGUL) have secured three weeks of full sick pay, following an agreement with facilities contractor Bidvest Noonan, who directly recruit the security guards. Read story

16,900 Southwest Airlines employees take voluntary leave
Employee Benefits: 16,900 Southwest Airlines employees are taking part in its voluntary leave programmes to help the organisation deal with the financial ramifications of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read story

Half of firms set to adopt flexible working
Workplace Insight: As employers have been given the green light to encourage staff to return to the office should they want to, new research from Hays claims over half (55 percent) of employers predict staff will transition to a new era of predominantly flexible working in six months’ time. Read story

Unilever pension deficit doubles over H1 2020
Pensions Age: Unilever’s pension liability net of assets has increased to €400m (£363m) as at 30 June 2020, up from €200m (£170m) at the start of the year. Read story

DC members showing ‘groundswell’ of ESG interest, says DCIF
Pensions Age: Defined contribution (DC) member attitudes toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are changing quickly in a “groundswell of interest”, according to a report from the DC Investment Forum (DCIF). Read story

No female representation at FTSE executive level leads to substantially less profit
HR Review: It has been discovered that FTSE 350 companies that have over a third of females at executive level have a net profit margin 10 times bigger than similar companies that have no women at that level. Read story

AE architect profile: Baroness Drake on the pension challenges ahead
Corporate Adviser: Few politicians have had a greater role in shaping the pensions landscape than Baroness Jeannie Drake. John Greenwood speaks to the auto-enrolment architect about dashboards, conflicts of interest and the inevitability of tax relief reform. Read story

Tax-free lump sum pension withdrawals halve during Covid-19
Professional Pensions: The number of savers opting to withdraw a tax-free lump sum from their pension has dropped more than 53% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Read story

TPR refrains from anti-avoidance action over Bernard Matthews pre-pack
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has decided not to take any action against Bernard Matthews after the food products business used a pre-pack administration to offload its pension scheme in 2016. Read story

PMI launches financial education and guidance service
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Management Institute (PMI) has launched a financial education and guidance service supported by Wealth At Work. Read story

Retirees deserting good value master trusts for lack of advice
Pensions Expert: Workers are ditching a widening range of retirement options offered by workplace defined contribution schemes for expensive retail products. Read story

Half of mums made redundant during Covid-19 cite lack of childcare, study reveals
People Management: Survey also shows pregnant staff are being asked to return to work despite feeling unsafe, as experts urge the importance of individual risk assessments and flexibility. Read story

67% of gig workers would feel more engaged if offered benefits
Employee Benefits: Just under two-thirds (67%) of gig workers would feel more engaged and positive towards the business if attractive benefits were offered, while two-thirds (66%) said they would feel more valued, according to research by Aon. Read story

Aster Group introduces enhanced health and wellbeing benefits for 1,440 employees
Employee Benefits: Housing business Aster Group is introducing an enhanced health and wellbeing benefits plan for its 1,440 employees through its partnership with health provider Simplyhealth. Read story

The National Security Inspectorate becomes an accredited living wage employer
Employee Benefits: Security and Investigations organisation The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) has become an accredited living wage employer by The Living Wage Foundation. Read story

French Connection to claim government furlough bonus
Employee Benefits: UK clothing organisation French Connection will claim the government’s retention bonus scheme for bringing furloughed employees back to work. Read story

What this indicates about workplace wellbeing
HR Grapevine: When the stress of work gets too much, the mental anxiety that goes hand in hand can penetrate every area of your life. Read story

Govt must ‘urgently clarify’ NHS Voluntary Scheme Pays Rules – Royal London
Pensions Age: Royal London has urged the government to “urgently clarify” Voluntary Scheme Pays eligibility rules in England and Wales to ensure that NHS workers have “breathing space” to resolve their tax affairs before the current deadline of 31 July 2020. Read story

Gender pay gap reporting and trans people
HR Magazine: As COVID-19 challenges develop and, hopefully, subside, the enforcement of the pay gap reporting deadline for employers with at least 250 employees in Great Britain will continue from 6 April 2021. Read story

Ending furlough scheme could result in unemployment hitting 10%
HR Review: It has been predicted that closing the furlough scheme at the start of November could result in unemployment reaching 10 per cent this year. Read story

Very small increase of BAME representation in UK’s top jobs
HR Review: The proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnics (BAME) in the top 1,097 most powerful roles in the UK has seen very little improvement and barely increased since 2017. Read story

Pension schemes must offer more support at retirement: PLSA
Corporate Adviser: The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) is calling for a new regulatory framework to protect those who don’t engage or fully understand their retirement options. Read story

Employees rate GIP more highly than PMI following Covid crisis
Corporate Adviser: One in four employees (24 per cent) working for smaller companies would like their employer to provide income protection insurance, following the Covid-19 pandemic according to new research. Read story

Schemes urged to boost cybercrime protection following surge in criminal interest
Professional Pensions: Schemes and administrators have been urged to strengthen their cybercrime resilience after heightened criminal interest in the sector. Read story

Women still work fewer paid hours despite gap shrinking, report finds
People Management: Study also shows staff as a whole are enjoying less leisure time, with experts warning a shorter working week won’t solve this for many. Read story

Google extends working from home policy to July 2021
Employee Benefits: Technology giant Google has extended its working from home policy to 30 June 2021 to support the health and wellbeing of its 200,000 employees during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read story

47% of businesses do not offer any employee benefits
Employee Benefits: Just under half (47%) of employers currently offer no employee benefits to their workforce, according to research by Hooray Health and Protection. Read story

Santander UK offers menopause support programme to 23,500 staff
Employee Benefits: Banking organisation Santander UK has introduced a personalised menopause support programme for its 23,500 employees. Read story

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims total £31.7 billion
Employee Benefits: Claims to date under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme total £31.7 billion as at 26 July 2020, an increased of £1.9 billion since 19 July 2020. Read story

WPC launches pension scams inquiry
Pensions Age: The Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) has launched an investigation into pension scams in the first strand of a three-part inquiry into the impact of the pension freedoms and protection of pension savers. Read story

A fifth of over-55s would access pension for ‘control’ - PensionBee
Pensions Age: A fifth (20 per cent) of over-55s would withdraw their pension for ‘control’ over their savings, which often means moving to investments such as savings accounts, according to PensionBee. Read story

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Rewarding in a Global Business: Talent
Incentive and Motivation: Many global incentive and recognition programs are designed for our own employees, and the war for talent continues to rage, with 77% of CEOs concerned about talent/skills availability as a business threat, according to PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey. Read story

The bonus question: how to make a traditional benefit relevant
Incentive and Motivation: James Malia, Director of Employee Benefits at Sodexo Engage, asks how organisations can make incentives work harder for their business. Read story

We can’t tickle ourselves – and we can’t reward ourselves
Incentive and Motivation: Human beings; you, me—everybody; literally hunger for achievement, just like we hunger for food, water, and oxygen. Read story

Towergate predicts upsurge in demand for dental benefits
Corporate Adviser: Employee benefits offering access to dental care, and support with payments, are likely to become far more popular following the coronavirus pandemic, according to Towergate Health & Protection. Read story

Workers want Covid tests before returning to workplace
Corporate Adviser: New survey shows reluctance of many working from home to return without adequate testing in place. Read story

Industry welcomes timely WPC impact of freedoms inquiry
Professional Pensions: A three-pronged Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) inquiry to review the impact of pension freedoms has been welcomed by the industry as pension savers continue to fall victim to sophisticated scams. Read story

USS sees sharp rise in funding deficit due to Covid-19
Professional Pensions: The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) revealed it has seen a sharp rise in its funding deficit over the last year due to the impact of Covid-19. Read story

Nest commits to net-zero default pension strategy by 2050
Professional Pensions: Nest has set out plans to move to its default pension strategy towards a net-zero investment portfolio by 2050, with at least £5.5bn of equities pledged to climate aware strategies. Read story

Fifth of private schools on the brink of leaving TPS
Pensions Expert: The mass exodus of private schools opting out of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme has reached a crescendo with 110 schools leaving in the past year. Read story

Mills and Reeve rewards 1,000 employees with bonus payment
Employee Benefits: Law firm Mills and Reeve is rewarding all 1,000 employees with a bonus payment of up to £1,111 due to the organisation seeing a 2.9% increase in turnover during the last financial year. Read story

Kainos repays government for cost of job retention scheme
Employee Benefits: Belfast software organisation Kainos is repaying the government for any furlough payments it has received during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read story

The Fair Work Commission introduces paid pandemic leave for care home workers
Employee Benefits: The Australian Fair Work Commission has introduced paid pandemic leave for care staff working at residential elderly care homes to support them during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, effective immediately. Read story

30% of employees may need to leave their jobs due to caring responsibilities
Employee Benefits: Almost a third (30%) of employees with caring responsibilities believe that they may have to leave their jobs due to unsupportive employers, according to research by Phoenix Group. Read story

Open letter criticises Pensions Minister for ‘anti-divestment stance’
Pensions Age: Over 60 prominent civil society leaders, including MPs and pension scheme chairs, have signed an open letter criticising Pensions Minister Guy Opperman for recent anti-divestment comments. Read story

Furloughed workers to receive full redundancy pay
HR Review: Employees who have been furloughed, will be entitled to redundancy pay based on their normal wages and not their furlough rates from 31/07/20. Read story

Round table: How benefits have performed through lockdown
Corporate Adviser: Workplace protection and wellbeing services have stood UK plc in good stead during the Covid-19 pandemic. Emma Simon hears advisers’ views on a fast-evolving market. Read story

Countrywide Farmers scheme completes £100m PPF+ buy-in with L&G
Professional Pensions: The Countrywide Farmers Retirement Benefits has secured a £100m buy-in with Legal & General, insuring members’ benefits above Pension Protection Fund (PPF) compensation levels. Read story

Diversity Project targets investment industry pay gap
Professional Pensions: The Diversity Project has outlined a new equality target for asset managers with the intention of halving the industry’s gender pay gap by 2030. Read story

HMRC to investigate businesses exploiting furlough scheme
Employee Benefits: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin to investigate businesses that it suspects are abusing the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Read story

Welsh government proposes 8.4% pay rise for new teachers
Employee Benefits: The Welsh government has proposed to increase the starting salaries for new teachers by 8.4% and increase the pay of teachers by 3.7% from the main pay scale. Read story

Barclays, Sky and Royal Mail recognised as top employers for women
Employee Benefits: Barclays (pictured), Sky and Royal Mail are just three of the organisations that have been recognised in The Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women list, compiled by the broadsheet and business community outreach charity Business in the Community (BITC). Read story

Greggs CEO won't pay staff forced to quarantine upon return
HR Grapevine: Last weekend, the UK Government announced that it would impose a two-week quarantine on holidaymakers returning from Spain, meaning employees who are unable to work from home would be unable to work at all. Read story

Just 14.5 per cent of 2019 mis-selling claims made by women – Pension Claim Consulting
Pensions Age: Fewer than one in five pension compensation claims came from women in 2019, analysis of Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) data has found. Read story

DWP unsure of Covid-19 impact on AE contributions; pensions remain a ‘key priority’ for govt
Pensions Age: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is unsure of the impact of Covid-19 on employees’ auto-enrolment (AE) contributions, due to a lack of “suitable data”. Read story

Fuller’s slashes DB pension deficit by £31.7m
Pensions Age: Fuller, Smith & Turner reduced its defined benefit (DB) pension deficit by £31.7m to £4.7m in its financial year ended 28 March 2020, according to the company’s annual financial report. Read story

Salary Sacrifice: British employees would take a £2,665 pay cut to avoid going back to their place of work
HR News: Saving money on daily commute, no need to worry about what to wear and no office politics to deal with… are just a handful of benefits to working from home (WFH). Read story

Employees say they can't afford more free time
HR Magazine: ​A quarter of working people do not want to reduce their hours of paid work to have more free time. Read story

AO incentive scheme could see bonus of 18 months pay
Incentive and Motivation: AO has launched an ambitious incentive scheme to reward its employees for “exceptional performance” as the online retailer continues its rapid growth. Read story

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