At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 10-16 March 2017

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 10-16 March 2017:

Tesco to back pay staff after salary sacrifice-linked living wage error
Employee Benefits: Retail organisation Tesco is to provide back pay to 140,000 former and current employees after it was found that their pay fell below the national living wage after salary sacrifice deductions. Read story

John Lewis and Waitrose staff to receive 6% bonus
Employee Benefits: Around 86,700 employees at John Lewis and Waitrose will receive a bonus worth 6% of their salary. Read story

137.3m working days lost due to sickness or injury in 2016
Employee Benefits: An estimated 137.3 million working days in the UK were lost due to sickness or injury in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Read story

Virgin Money reports gender pay gap early
HR Magazine: The company has publicly reported on both pay gaps and the number of women it has in senior roles. Read story

Sickness absence at lowest rate since records began
People Management: But ONS figures suggest future challenges among older and part-time workers. Read story

Openreach pension rights to be protected after separation from BT
Professional Pensions: Members of the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS) will have their defined benefit (DB) pensions protected following the separation of the Openreach business. Read story

DB transfer advice compensation overhaul ordered
Corporate Adviser: Compensation for consumers given unsuitable advice to transfer out of a defined benefit (DB) pension scheme is to be changed under FCA proposals issued today. Read story

UBS cuts performance award pool by 17%
Employee Benefits: Swiss banking organisation UBS has decreased its 2016 performance award pool by 17% to CHF2.9 billion. Read story

Voyages-sncf introduces on-site e-sport gaming room
Employee Benefits: E-commerce travel organisation has introduced a state-of-the-art gaming room at its head office to encourage employees to take part in e-sport competitions. Read story

Superfunds: The answer to DB consolidation?
Professional Pensions: The PLSA's DB taskforce has suggested employers should be able to offload their DB scheme into merged 'superfunds'. James Phillips explores the idea. Read story

Industry slams single-sponsor DB super funds
Professional Pensions: Fully merging DB assets and liabilities into superfunds is "impractical and unrealistic", according to most respondents in last week's Pensions Buzz. Read story

Public sector workers earn more than private sector counterparts despite austerity, report finds 
People Management: But pay cuts and freezes could lead to a talent drain among skilled workers should stagnation continue, experts warn. Read story

The impact of financial stress
Reward Guide: Physical and emotional ill health linked to financial stress for many employees. Read story

Working pensions dashboard prototype seen by Treasury
Corporate Adviser: A working pensions dashboard prototype has been delivered and demonstrated, hailing the start of a two-year journey to a full consumer launch in 2019, Corporate Adviser understands. Read story

Nationwide introduces higher minimum pension contribution level to improve retirement outcomes
Employee Benefits: Nationwide Building Society updated its defined contribution (DC) group personal pension (GPP) plan to default 12,000 scheme members on to a higher contribution rate, to ensure staff access the maximum employer contribution and to help improve retirement outcomes. Read story

Tim Gosling: Higher contribution rates will bring savers closer to retirement targets
Employee Benefits: With the 2017 review of automatic-enrolment approaching, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) spent 2016 researching adequacy in pension saving. Read story

Managing recurring sickness absence
HR Magazine: What can a business do if its staff repeatedly fail to turn up because they're sick? Read story

Asda offers pay increase under new contract
Employee Benefits: Retail organisation Asda has offered 135,000 UK-based store employees a pay increase as part of a new contract. Read story

Lush to pay all permanent UK staff the voluntary living wage
Employee Benefits: Cosmetic retail organisation Lush is to pay all of its permanent employees in the UK, including retail and manufacturing staff, the voluntary living wage from April 2017. Read story

50% believe low resilience levels impact workplace performance
Employee Benefits: Half (50%) of respondents believe low levels of resilience have a negative impact on workplace performance, according to research by Axa PPP Healthcare. Read story

How the London Stock Exchange Group merged its pension schemes
Professional Pensions: Jonathan Stapleton looks at why and how the London Stock Exchange Group conducted a sectionalised merger of its two main pension schemes. Read story

Govt urged to re-think three-month deferral on enrolling new workers
Professional Pensions: The government should re-consider its decision to allow newly-created companies the right to defer enrolling new members of staff by up to three months, says Adrian Boulding. Read story

Employers can ban religious clothing and symbols, says ECJ – but lawyers urge caution
People Management: Defeat for employees over right to wear Islamic headscarves; businesses must have ‘neutral’ dress code. Read story

Ealing’s Ian O’Donnell: LGPS pooling – the local authority view
Corporate Adviser: The Local Government Pension Scheme is undergoing radical upheaval – so what do the local authority’s CEOs, S151 officers and finance directors really make of the process. Read story

Age is biggest barrier to career progression
HR Magazine: One in five (20%) British workers cited their age as their biggest career obstacle. Read story

88% of benefits professionals receive life assurance or death-in-service benefits
Employee Benefits: Almost nine in 10 (88%) HR and benefits professional respondents receive life assurance or death-in-service benefits, according to research by Employee Benefits. Read story

Total pay increases by 0.7% in real terms
Employee Benefits: Total pay, including bonuses, increased by 0.7% in real terms in Great Britain between November 2015-January 2016 and November 2016-January 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Read story

58% of marketing professionals rank flexi-time in their top three benefits
Employee Benefits: More than half (58%) of marketing professional respondents cite flexi-time as one of the top three benefits they would like to have access to, according to research by Reboot Online Marketing. Read story

Trustees lack understanding of implicit costs
Professional Pensions: Research suggests trustees have a good understanding of basic charges but are less certain on other costs. Michael Klimes looks at the findings. Read story

Royal Mail's union floats risk sharing scheme to save DB
Professional Pensions: The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is calling on Royal Mail to merge its defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) members into a risk sharing pension scheme. Read story

TPR releases anti-scam tools to help savers and trustees
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a series of anti-scam tools to aid savers in spotting scams before they fall victim to them. Read story

April 2017: nine key employment law changes
Personnel Today: The run-up to April is typically a busy time of year for HR professionals, with new employment legislation due to come into force. Read story

Nick Homer: The case for a GIP incentive
Corporate Adviser: A modest investment in a financial incentive for employers taking out group income protection would deliver the Government a substantial return says Zurich head of market management, corporate risk Nick Homer. Read story

Robert Cochran: Pensions – the evolving value chain
Corporate Adviser: The last 20 years have seen seismic changes in the relationships between pension providers, advisers and customers. Technology and regulation have both played a big role in this change and we now find ourselves in a period where all parties have to look at their place in the value chain. Read story

Pensioner incomes rising Govt figures show
Corporate Adviser: Recently retired pensioners’ incomes have risen by 13 per cent in real terms over the decade to 2016, but 6 out of 10 still receive the majority of their income from the state. Read story

JLL engages staff with sharesave scheme through digital communications
Employee Benefits: Professional services firm JLL is moving away from paper-based means of communicating its share schemes to online methods to better reflect the ways its employees carry out the majority of their work and personal transactions. Read story

Malcolm Hurlston: Employee endorsement of share plans is invaluable
Employee Benefits: Life is a busy place and our attention is at a premium as we are assailed by nudges prompts and messages, virtual and real. It is the same for employees only more so: share plans account for a fraction of what interests them. Read story

Self-employed welcome NIC U-turn
HR Magazine: The proposed increases would have seen Class 4 NICs rise from 9% to 10% in April. Read story

US women’s ice hockey team refuses to compete over pay dispute
Employee Benefits: The US Women’s National Hockey Team has refused to participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship games in a bid to further negotiations around fair wages and support for the team’s players. Read story

29% believe more support for working parents would help to close the gender pay gap
Employee Benefits: More than a quarter (29%) of employee respondents believe that, alongside the upcoming gender pay gap reporting requirements, more support for working parents would help to close the gender pay gap, according to research by CV Library. Read story

Pensions dashboard working group to help set minimum data standards
Employee Benefits: The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has created its Pensions Dashboard Working Group, which will help to set the minimum data standards for the pensions dashboard. Read story

NILGOSC leads way on finding death benefits solution after losing Brewster case
Professional Pensions: The Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) is building consensus on what the landmark Brewster judgement means for the awarding of death benefits to unmarried couples. Read story

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