At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 17-23 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 17-23 March 2017

Pets at Home to launch new leave benefits for staff
Employee Benefits: Pet-focused retail organisation Pets at Home is to launch a new suite of leave benefits for its 8,200 employees, including a day’s paid leave for when an employee or an employee’s child moves home or when introducing a new pet into the family. Read story

63% of gig economy workers believe government should regulate to enable access to benefits
Employee Benefits: Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents who work in the gig economy think the government should regulate the gig economy to guarantee them basic employment rights and benefits such as holiday pay, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Read story

12% rank health cash plans as their most valued benefit
Employee Benefits: Just over one in 10 (12%) respondents rank health cash plans as their most valued employee benefit, according to research by Willis Towers Watson. Read story

Prudential's IGC: Members are getting better value for money after 'big progress' on charges
Professional Pensions: Prudential's independent governance committee (IGC) has found members are getting better value for money after reducing all initial charges and has no major concerns about transaction costs. Read story

Industry welcomes PPF levy for sponsorless DB schemes
Professional Pensions: Imposing a higher levy on schemes without a substantive sponsor would be fairer and act as a deterrent, according to Pensions Buzz respondents. Read story

Quarter of young mums experience maternity discrimination
People Management: As 40 per cent report being asked how being a parent will affect their work, experts warn employers are missing out on skilled workers. Read story

IPT petition set for launch at AMII AGM
Corporate Adviser: A petition calling for an end to insurance premium tax hikes on health insurance will be launched at the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries’ AGM this week. Read story

Leicester Uni scheme cuts risk with higher hedge
Pensions Expert: Following closure to future benefit accrual, trustees at the University of Leicester Pension and Assurance Scheme have decided to double its hedge, as experts emphasise the importance of keeping an eye on triggers and cash flow. Read story

Centrica drills for returns with high-yield allocation
Pensions Expert: The Centrica Combined Common Investment Fund, which manages holdings for the energy giant’s pension schemes, has trimmed its exposure to corporate bonds, reweighting its portfolio towards high-yield debt. Read story

Certain jobs have elevated suicide risk
HR Magazine: Men and women face different suicide risk levels depending on their job. Read story

Disney to provide $3.8m in back pay to US staff
Employee Benefits: Two subsidiaries of entertainment organisation The Walt Disney Company are to provide a total of $3.8 million (£3.1 million) in back pay to 16,339 US employees following minimum wage and overtime violations. Read story

19% of 18-29 year olds believe access to instant discounts would increase engagement
Employee Benefits: Almost one fifth (19%) of respondents aged 18-29 years old feel that access to instant benefits, such as retail discounts and cinema tickets, would increase their engagement with their employer, according to research by Personal Group. Read story

80% are prepared to share positive aspects of their work on social media
Employee Benefits: More than three-quarters (80%) of respondents are prepared to speak about the positive aspects of their work on social media, according to research by communications organisation Portland. Read story

How far should the industry go with DWP's GMP equalisation method?
Professional Pensions: The DWP's GMP equalisation methodology is an improvement but questions remain about far it should be applied. Michael Klimes investigates this dilemma. Read story

A risk-sharing scheme for Royal Mail - will it catch on?
Professional Pensions: A union proposal for Royal Mail to create a risk sharing scheme has brought back the idea of defined ambition. Stephanie Baxter looks at how it would work and if it could set a blueprint for others. Read story

GKN eyes £250m of debt to fund DB deficit
Professional Pensions: GKN Group is considering issuing corporate bonds to plug the gap in its defined benefit (DB) schemes, according to reports. Read story

Firms may be allowed to water down pension payouts, says minister
People Management: ‘Super funds’ would permit businesses to hand over responsibility for final salary schemes. Read story

YBS Share Plans to offer financial education in the workplace
Reward Guide: YBS Share Plans, part of the UK’s second largest building society, has teamed up with Secondsight and WEALTH at work to offer its corporate clients access to financial education in the workplace. Read story

Treasury admits MPAA consultation numbers wrong
Corporate Adviser: The Treasury has admitted its response to the Reducing the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA) consultation contained figures that incorrectly understated the proportion of pension savers likely to be impacted by the change, repeating an inaccuracy highlighted to them last December by Corporate Adviser. Read story

Understanding DC asset security
Professional Pensions: Finding out what protections are in place for DC assets is not straightforward, finds Helen Morrissey. Read story

Dismissing staff on long-term sick leave is not necessarily unfair, says Court of Appeal 
People Management: Case highlights need for employers to keep medical evidence under ‘regular review’, says employment lawyer. Read story

Nearly a third of senior managers think gender pay gap ‘isn’t a problem’
People Management: Women’s decisions to take career breaks or work part time are blamed for pay gap, survey finds. Read story

Field questions level of benefits for BHS members from deal
Professional Pensions: The level of benefits British Home Stores (BHS) workers will receive from Sir Philip Green has been questioned by MP Frank Field. Read story

TPR: we will provide clarity on data requirements in scheme returns over summer
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will inform the industry this summer about what sort of data should be included in scheme returns from next year. Read story

Phoenix Life's £1.2bn buy-in for own scheme is biggest transaction for 2016
Professional Pensions: Phoenix Life has announced it completed a buy-in for its UK defined benefit (DB) scheme last December, making it the largest de-risking transaction of the year. Read story

Charities' pension scheme completes buy-in with Aviva
Professional Pensions: Trustees of an industry-wide charity pension scheme have completed a £70m buy-in with Aviva, which will flip into a full buyout with the insurer over the next 12 months. Read story

Mind the gender pay gap in financial services
Money Marketing: Much focus for businesses this year will be on how they are going to tackle their gender pay gap. This will be particularly true for the financial services sector, which tops the list with an average gap of 30 per cent. Read story

Danby Bloch: Advisers can help clients beat new salary sacrifice rules
Money Marketing: Budgets nowadays are mostly about things that will happen at least a year out. So sometimes the parliamentary razzmatazz diverts us from the train crashes about to hit us. Like the new salary sacrifice rules that will kick in in April. Read story

Virgin Care achieves 10% take-up of wellbeing platform
Employee Benefits: Health and social care organisation Virgin Care has achieved a 10% take-up rate for its new online health and lifestyle platform for staff, which launched in January 2017. Read story

Cricket Australia offers female players a 125% pay increase
Employee Benefits: Cricket Australia has offered female cricketers an average pay rise of 125% as part of a new remuneration and benefits proposal. Read story

48% have access to workplace wellbeing tools
Employee Benefits: Nearly half (48%) of respondents are offered tools by their employer that are designed to promote wellbeing in the workplace, according to research by Robert Half. Read story

Stress affecting employee engagement
HR Magazine: Research has found employees are experiencing high levels of stress at work, leading to disengagement. Read story

David Walker: The changing roles and relationships within the LGPS
Corporate Adviser: The pooling of local government pension schemes may involve devolving decision-making to separate bodies. But all parties must remain engaged in the process for the promised efficiencies to be delivered says Hymans Robertson head of LGPS investments David Walker. Read story

Pessimistic Remainers ‘planning to save more’
Corporate Adviser: People who voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum are more pessimistic about the economy and saving more money as a result, new research suggests. Read story

Viewpoint: Creating an open workplace culture when it comes to mental health
Health Insurance Daily: Lessons from Marks & Spencer’s drop-in pilot. Read story

No raid on pensions 'piggy bank' soon, government confirms
Professional Pensions: The government has confirmed that "now is not the right time" to undertake significant reform of pensions tax policy, such as moving to a flat rate of tax relief. Read story

Trustees need 'more support and skills' to hold consultants to account
Professional Pensions: The quality of trustees must improve so they can better govern and challenge their advisers, according to a panel of MPs and experts, including the shadow pensions minister. Read story

JTI launches financial education programme
Employee Benefits: Global tobacco organisation JTI has launched a new online financial education programme for its 615 UK-based staff. Read story

14% believe every employer provides death-in-service benefits
Employee Benefits: More than one in 10 (14%) respondents believe that every employer provides death-in-service benefits, according to research by Aviva. Read story

29% do not view the gender pay gap as a business issue
Employee Benefits: More than a quarter (29%) of senior decision maker respondents do not view the gender pay gap as an issue for businesses, according to research by NGA Human Resources. Read story

Use neuroscience to build effective learning strategies
HR Magazine: Understanding how learning works on a biological level can help create the right environment. Read story

How will the Spring Budget 2017 impact pay and benefits?
Employee Benefits: Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured) delivered his first and last Spring Budget speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday 8 March 2017. Read story

Cridland: Increase SPA and make employers deliver mid-life MOT
Corporate Adviser: State pension age should rise to 68 by 2039, seven years earlier than currently planned, the triple lock should be abolished and part-deferral of state pension should be introduced, the Cridland Report has recommended. Read story

Hywel Dda University Health Board helps staff fund everyday health needs
Employee Benefits: Hywel Dda University Health Board cares about the health and wellbeing of its 10,000 employees, having introduced a Health Shield-provided cash plan in 2013 to help staff fund their everyday health needs. Read story

Reports suggest raising state pension age
HR Magazine: The increases recommended would affect around 5.8 million people if brought into effect. Read story

TPR to clarify duties for professional trustees
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is consulting on changing its definition of professional trustees and is also reviewing its penalty policies for breach of duties. Read story

PPF consults on levy rule changes; Two-thirds of schemes could see levy reductions
Professional Pensions: The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is proposing changes to its levy rules for the next triennium from 2018/19 to develop a more accurate assessment of insolvency risk. Read story

Deutsche Bank cuts variable compensation pool by 77%
Employee Benefits: German global banking and financial services organisation Deutsche Bank has decreased its 2016 overall variable compensation pool by 77% to €0.5 billion (£0.4 billion). Read story

Firefighters to appeal Employment Tribunal’s decision on pensions age discrimination
Employee Benefits: The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has registered to appeal an Employment Tribunal decision which ruled that a government move to justify changes to firefighters’ pension arrangements was not age discriminatory. Read story

Gousto awards share options to staff to mark anniversary
Employee Benefits: Recipe box organisation Gousto is offering its 200 UK-based employees one-off share options to mark its fifth anniversary. Read story

33% report an increase in staff pension fund performance complaints
Employee Benefits: A third (33%) of employer respondents report an increase in complaints from employees about their pension fund performance in the last two years, according to research by Portus Consulting. Read story

Fathers should be ‘made’ to take parental leave, MPs are told
People Management: Working fathers should be “made” to take parental leave to help address the low-take up rates for the government’s shared parental leave regulations, MPs have been told. Read story

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