At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 1-7 September 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 1-7 September

PPF urges same-sex survivors to check entitlement after Walker ruling
Professional Pensions: The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has called on widows and widowers in same-sex marriages or civil partnerships to check whether they are receiving their full survivor entitlement from the lifeboat fund. Read story

DB funding deficit grows 10% over August
Professional Pensions: The collective deficit of defined benefit (DB) schemes increased by £40bn to £460bn over August after falls in long-term rates, according to PwC's Skyval index. Read story

Green 'warns Field' about revealing details of BHS settlement
Professional Pensions: Sir Philip Green has reportedly threatened Frank Field MP with legal action over allegations made in an interview with Talk Radio last week. Read story

Estee Lauder subject to sex discrimination lawsuit over parental leave benefit
Employee Benefits: Global cosmetics and makeup organisation Estee Lauder is subject to a lawsuit that alleges male employees are discriminated against under the organisation’s paid parental leave programme. Read story

63% of parents are unaware of their right to unpaid parental leave
Employee Benefits: More than half (63%) of respondents who are young parents are not aware of their right to take unpaid parental leave, according to research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Read story

Low-paid parents struggling to balance work and childcare
HR Magazine: TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said employers need to better support working parents. Read story

Arianna Huffington's approach to employee holiday is genius
HR Grapevine: Taking some time away from the workplace is incredibly important for staff wellbeing, health and productivity. Read story

Asda equal pay case: EAT allows mass claim to proceed
Personnel Today: Over 10,000 claimants are bringing a group equal pay claim against Asda. Read story

Major asset managers renew fight against Sports Direct governance
Professional Pensions: A number of asset managers are to vote against the re-election of Sports Direct board members, including its chairman Keith Hellawell, at its annual general meeting (AGM) on 6 September. Read story

Robots and AI could mean state pension age need not rise
Professional Pensions: The state pension age (SPA) could stick at 67 if the government redirects finances from boosted gross domestic product (GDP) arising from the advance of robots and artificial intelligence (AI). Read story

UKFast gives staff day off for children’s first day at school
Employee Benefits: Technology organisation UKFast has given all employees who have children starting at primary school today (Monday 4 September 2017) the day off in order to help parents be a part of their child’s first day at school. Read story

Cambridge and Crayford-based McDonald’s staff strike over pay and conditions
Employee Benefits: Staff at McDonald’s Cambridge and Crayford branches are undertaking strike action today (Monday 4 September) in a dispute over pay and conditions. Read story

Diageo gains living wage accreditation
Employee Benefits: Global drinks organisation Diageo has been accredited as a living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation and Scottish accreditation body Poverty Alliance. Read story

Hot topic: Greater pay transparency
HR Magazine: What issues does greater pay transparency throw up for organisations, and how can they address these? Read story

Inability to ‘switch off’ may be behind rise in sick notes, warns expert
People Management: Employers urged to spot problems early on, as one in three fit notes is linked to mental ill-health. Read story

63% plan to increase focus on communicating health benefits
Employee Benefits: Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employer respondents plan to put a greater focus on communicating their healthcare benefits in the coming 12 months, according to research by Employee Benefits and Health Shield. Read story

27% of company car drivers unaware of tax changes
Employee Benefits: More than a quarter (27%) of employee respondents who drive a company car are not aware of the tax changes affecting company cars introduced by the government in April 2017, according to research by OSV. Read story

Scrapping public sector pay cap ‘won’t address years of pay cuts’, warn unions
People Management: Scrapping the public sector pay cap would be a “drop in the ocean” that would do “nothing to address the years of pay cuts public servants have endured”, critics have said. Read story

Scammers using TPR’s Project Bloom scam warnings
Corporate Adviser: Scam pension websites are using The Pensions Regulator’s Project Bloom anti-scam materials to con consumers into unlocking their pensions, TPR has confirmed. Read story

Bank of England to pay strikers more money
Money Marketing: The Bank of England has agreed to pay some of its workers more after strike action by members of the union Unite. Read story

FCA pays PwC £75k for DB transfer redress report
Money Marketing: The FCA has paid PwC at least £75,000 to review how clients who receive bad pension transfer advice should be compensated. Read story

ABI: Dashboard needs legislation to avoid patchy coverage
Professional Pensions: The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said legislation will be required to ensure the pension dashboard has wide enough coverage so it can work for everyone. Read story

CWU to hold strike ballot over Royal Mail pension plans
Professional Pensions: The Communication Workers Union (CWU) will ballot its members on strike action over Royal Mail's plans to close its defined benefit (DB) scheme. Read story

Itsu rolls out employee wellbeing and recognition programme
Employee Benefits: Asian restaurant organisation Itsu is rolling out a new employee wellbeing and recognition programme to 70 of its restaurants to help improve staff communication and support the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of its 1,300 employees. Read story

Scottish government commits to removing 1% pay cap for public sector staff
Employee Benefits: The Scottish government has committed to removing the 1% pay cap for public sector employees from 2018-2019. Read story

Parents of premature babies deserve ‘total backing’ from employers
People Management: Experts have reminded employers to sensitively open up channels of communication, and not make assumptions about plans to return to work, when supporting parents of premature or ill babies. Read story

PLSA urges schemes to focus on ‘inputs’
Pensions Expert: A new report on pension scheme governance calls for greater focus on improving the quality of structures and personnel, or ‘inputs’, and argues that processes have received excessive attention. Read story

Pension transfer values recover from dip
Money Marketing: Transfer values increased by 3 per cent in August, rising from £230,000 at the start of the month to £237,000 at the end. Read story

30% use people analytics to calculate benefits’ return on investment
Employee Benefits: Less than one-third (30%) of employer respondents use people analytics to calculate the cost, impact, and return on investment (ROI) of reward and benefits in their organisation, according to research by Equiniti. Read story

FTSE 350 defined benefit pension deficit rises to £83bn
Employee Benefits: The accounting deficit for defined benefit (DB) pension schemes at FTSE 350 organisation increased from £71 billion at the end of July 2017 to £83 billion at 31 August 2017, according to research by Mercer. Read story

22% feel workplace support would make them comfortable to take time off when ill
Employee Benefits: More than one-fifth (22%) of employee respondents believe that workplace support such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and access to counselling would make them feel more comfortable taking time off when they are physically or mentally unwell, according to research by Canada Life Group Insurance. Read story

BBC conducts equal pay audit across UK-based staff
Employee Benefits: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is conducting an equal pay audit across its UK-based staff as part of a range of measures to ensure fair pair at the organisation. Read story

Inequalities, discrimination and the pay gap
HR Magazine: Can HR play a role in fostering workplace inclusion and equality? Read story

Balancing work and life: Why flexibility is a two-way street
Personnel Today: Even fast-growing companies need to keep an eye on retaining talented employees as their work and home responsibilities change. This goes beyond flexible working policies, argues Prezi’s global head of HR, Emoke Starr. Read story

Workplace Wellbeing: How to stop RSI in its tracks
Incentive and Motivation: Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is not looked on as a dangerous or painful injury, however anyone who has ever had RSI will know the painful extent of the injury. RSI is related to the overuse of muscles and tendons in the upper body caused through repetitive activities or intense high activity without rest. Read story

Smaller schemes failing to meet basic governance standards
Professional Pensions: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will take action on poor scheme governance after its research found despite improvement among larger schemes, many trustee boards are failing to meet their duties. Read story

DWP hints at ramping up cost disclosure in DC; plans to consult
Professional Pensions: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) wants to improve the disclosure of costs and charges to defined contribution (DC) members and will consult on this in the future, policy manager David Farrar says. Read story

Plumbing industry scheme completes £560m buy-in with L&G
Professional Pensions: The embattled multi-employer Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme has purchased a £560m buy-in with Legal & General (L&G). Read story

Election 2017: what it means for the workforce
Reward Guide: Helen Swire explores what measures the re-elected Conservative government – having lost its overall majority – may decide to pursue. Read story

What perks would employees leave for?
Incentive and Motivation: Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace report, employees categorically say they would be willing to leave their current job for one that offers greater flexibility and financial rewards. Read story

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