At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 11-17 August 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 11-17 August.

TPR and PPF agree RAA proposal for British Steel scheme
Professional Pensions: The regulator and lifeboat fund have agreed plans to sever the £15bn British Steel Pension Scheme from Tata Steel UK after months of negotiations with the trustee and sponsor. Read story

Taxpayer cost for Royal Mail pension soars 22% over 2016
Professional Pensions: Government-backed liabilities in the Royal Mail Statutory Pension Scheme (RMSPS) rocketed more than £8bn over the year to 31 March, according to Cabinet Office documents. Read story

EAT ruling on voluntary overtime’s inclusion in holiday pay raises practical considerations
Employee Benefits: In July 2017, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) dismissed an appeal by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, ruling that voluntary overtime should be included in calculations for holiday pay. Read story

MJ Mapp recognises staff with personalised treat boxes
Employee Benefits: Property management organisation MJ Mapp has awarded more than 250 personalised treat boxes to its employees as part of its values-based recognition scheme. Read story

Employment grows but wage growth to stay weak
HR Magazine: Research suggests this could be the result of an increase in labour supply over the past year. Read story

How all businesses can prepare for gender pay gap reporting
HR Magazine: While the regulations target large organisations, companies of all sizes can take steps to close their gap. Read story

Northern gains living wage accreditation
Employee Benefits: Rail operation organisation Northern, which employs 5,600 staff, has been accredited as a living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation. Read story

US ranked worst country in the world for paid annual leave
Reward Guide: Even though the US is considered one of the most progressive countries in the West, it is still one of the few countries in the world where employees have no right to statutory holiday pay. Read story

Employers expect median basic pay to rise by 1%
Employee Benefits: Median basic pay is expected to increase by 1% over the 12 months to June 2018, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Adecco Group. Read story

Fit for Work scheme a ‘wasted investment’
People Management: Two-thirds of GPs did not refer anyone last year; only a quarter of businesses that have heard of the scheme would use it. Read story

Bayer latest scheme to move to master trust
Pensions Expert: Pharmaceutical company Bayer has closed the DC section of its pension plan and transferred members to a mastertrust, a move experts say has become more widespread in recent years. Read story

DB schemes insuring wrong tranche of members in buy-ins
Professional Pensions: Defined benefit (DB) trustees are not maximising value from their pensioner buy-ins as they are insuring the oldest tranche of members, Punter Southall has said. Read story

British Steel restructure agreement welcomed but big questions still unanswered
Professional Pensions: Today's agreement on a regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA) to split Tata Steel UK (TSUK) from its defined benefit (SB) pension fund fails to answer fundamental questions. Read story

How to help employees protect their maturing share schemes from tax
Reward Guide: Employees from many leading companies are benefiting from maturing Save As You Earn (SAYE) share schemes this year, but what can they do to make sure that these potentially life changing amounts aren’t eroded by Capital Gains Tax (CGT)? Read story

New pension transfer qualification attracts 500 applications in first week
Money Marketing: The Chartered Insurance Institute has officially kicked off enrolment into its Level 4 Certificate (AF7) in pension transfers advice, which tacks a new Level 6 pension transfers unit onto three existing Level 4 exams covering pensions and retirement planning, investment principles and ethics. Read story

Capita could see strike action over 'disgraceful' DB closure
Professional Pensions: The planned closure of Capita's defined benefit (DB) scheme could be met with strike action as Unite launches a ballot of its members. Read story

Nearly four in five workers want AE contributions to rise
Professional Pensions: Over 80% of workers who qualify for automatic enrolment (AE) believe a workplace pension is good for them, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) survey has revealed. Read story

SSE hedges £1.2bn of longevity risk for two defined benefit pension schemes
Employee Benefits: Energy organisation SSE has hedged pension longevity risks of £1.2 billion across two of its defined benefit (DB) pension schemes through the completion on one longevity insurance and two buy-in transactions. Read story

77% of manufacturing organisations are aware of the Fit for Work service
Employee Benefits: More than three-quarters (77%) of employer respondents in the manufacturing sector are aware of the government’s Fit for Work service, and 7% of these respondents have used it, according to research by manufacturers’ organisation, EEF. Read story

Glasgow City Council agrees 6% annual pay increase for school janitors
Employee Benefits: Janitors who work for Glasgow City Council in primary, nursery and additional support for learning (ASL) schools and are members of the trade union Unison have agreed a 6% annual pay increase following a long-running pay dispute. Read story

Make appraisals motivating again
Incentive and Motivation: A recent survey by breatheHR suggested that 30% of employees never have meetings about their personal development. SMEs in the UK employ 15.7 million people, this means 4.7 million people – almost a third of the SME work force – aren’t getting the input needed to further their career. Read story

Pep up your offering with seasoning
Reward Guide: Timing can be critical when developing a benefits programme, and matching your offerings to the time of year is a good strategy, writes Sam Barrett. Read story

Employees want more summertime perks
Reward Guide: Keeping employees happy during the summer time can easily be achieved with the introduction of a few summer perks. Read story

Racial pay gap: Black workers paid less than white workers
HR Grapevine: Although two workers might have the same qualifications, it is likely that if that worker is white they will be paid more than a black counterpart – The Independent reports. Read story

Costain extends employee assistance programme to supply chain staff
Employee Benefits: Construction organisation Costain has extended access to its employee assistance programme (EAP) to staff working in its supply chain. Read story

Total and regular pay fall by 0.5% in real terms
Employee Benefits: Both total pay, which includes bonus payments, and regular pay, which excludes bonuses, fell by 0.5% in real terms for employees in Great Britain between April-June 2016 and April-June 2017, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Read story

Students prefer to work for living wage employers
HR Magazine: The living wage in London is currently £9.75 per hour, and £8.45 per hour outside of the capital. Read story

Leave for new dads should be ringfenced, says government watchdog 
People Management: Pay gaps in crucial areas such as gender and ethnicity could be reduced if all jobs were advertised as flexible and fathers were given more support to take time off to care for their children, the government’s equality watchdog has said today. Read story

Employee Absenteeism is on the rise
Reward Guide: With employee absences increasing, employers are losing almost 3% of their working time. Read story

FTSE 100 companies address shareholder concerns on pay in 2017 AGM season
Professional Pensions: FTSE 100 companies have responded to last year's investor rebellions regarding executive pay, with "more conservative policies" being adopted according to new analysis from the Investment Association (IA). Read story

Royal London's group pensions business soars 32% as it plans Irish base
Professional Pensions: Royal London saw its group pensions new business grow to £2.5bn in the first half, compared to £1.9bn in H1 last year, according to its interim financial reports. Read story

Ticking bomb for Royal Mail as CWU sets deadline before holding strike ballot
Professional Pensions: The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has told Royal Mail it must make significant progress in resolving its pensions dispute by 6 September to avoid industrial action. Read story

Why employers should feel comfortable when changing benefit rules
Professional Pensions: Two Court of Appeal judgments have allowed schemes to introduce a pensionable pay cap. James Phillips explains the reasons why and what to be aware of. Read story

Argos tops minimum wage non-compliance list for £1.4m underpayment
Employee Benefits: Retail organisation Argos has topped the list of 233 employers named by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for failure to pay employees the national minimum wage and living wage. Read story

The winners and losers under the new child care tax breaks
Corporate Adviser: Parents spending more than £9,000 a year on childcare are win out under the switch from child care vouchers, with families in all tax brackets losing out if their annual spend is below £3,000, analysis from Wealth At Work shows. Read story

Leading the way in employee engagement: Biotech and pharma
HR Magazine: Biotech and pharma is leading the way in employee engagement, which is having a marked impact on bussiness performance. Read story

Employers blame overtime, apprentices and uniforms for almost £2m in underpaid wages
People Management: Deducting pay to cover uniforms, paying the wrong wage to apprentices and failing to account for overtime were among the most common excuses given by employers newly identified as underpaying staff. Read story

Employers struggling to engage the workforce
Reward Guide: Improving economy signals more fluid job market for UK. Read story

Does unlimited paid time off actually work?
HR Grapevine: Paul Wolfe, SVP and Head of HR at Indeed, a jobs site and recruitment aggregator, believes that many workers aren’t unplugging from work when they’re on vacation. Read story

Fit for Work scheme ‘failing to be embraced by SMEs’
Health Insurance Daily: A key plank pf the government’s plan for getting employees back to work is failing to be embraced by companies, especially SMEs, a survey suggests. Read story

Pay gaps need to tackle ethnicity and disability as well as gender, urges EHRC
Personnel Today: All jobs should be advertised as available for flexible working and fathers should receive ‘use it or lose it’ parental pay at an enhanced rate if we are to reduce the gender pay gap, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Read story

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