At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 17-23 January 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 17-23 January.

The lunch hour is disappearing due to over worked employees
HR Review: The lunch hour is being killed by overworked employees, as they feel if they do take a break they will not be able to complete their everyday tasks. Read story

Left and right think tanks join to call for pensions commission
Corporate Adviser: Centre-left think tank The Fabian Society and centre-right Bright Blue have joined forces to call for a Turner-style commission to address challenges such as the future of auto-enrolment and pension decumulation. Read story

British Steel trustees cleared by Pensions Ombudsman
Pensions Expert: The Pensions Ombudsman has rejected a number of complaints against the trustees of the old British Steel Pension Scheme, after concluding that communications to members were not misleading and did not amount to scaremongering. Read story

Three-fifths of employers do not have an actively managed wellbeing programme
Employee Benefits: Almost three-fifths (56%) of businesses do not have an actively managed health and wellbeing programme in place, according to research by workplace savings and benefits consultancy Vested. Read story

Director of accountancy firm fined for misleading pensions regulator
Employee Benefits: Former accountant Paul Rewrie has been ordered to pay £4,987 after pleading guilty to knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR). Read story

Birkbeck cleaning staff win rights to direct employment
Employee Benefits: Cleaning staff at London-based educational institute Birkbeck College have won the right to have their jobs transferred back in-house, affecting 78 workers currently working at the college. Read story

Firm to pay out £1.2bn in profit sharing to employees
HR Grapevine: Delta Air Lines has announced plans to pay out more than £1.2billion ($1.6billion) in profit sharing to its employees, Daily News reported. Read story

Dashboard to cost businesses up to £1.5bn
Pensions Age: The pensions dashboard could cost businesses up to £1.48bn, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates in its Pension Schemes Bill Impact Assessment report. Read story

Suspending pension payments to NHS members facing criminal offences 'unlawful' - High Court
Pensions Age: The High Court has today (17 January) ruled that the ‘controversial’ changes made by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to the NHS Pension Scheme last year were unlawful. Read story

Proposals for new pensions commission garner cross party support
Pensions Age: There is strong cross-party and frontbench support for a new independent pensions commission, according to joint research from the Fabian Society and Bright Blue. Read story

Half of UK workers plan to ask for a pay rise
HR Magazine: Forty-nine per cent of UK workers intend to ask their boss for a pay rise in the next 12 months, according to research from Robert Half UK. Read story

Mental health support helps to retain staff
HR Review: Lack of mental health support can lead to businesses to lose out on top talent as less than a third have said they would stay in their existing employer if a competitor offered them similar pay but with mental health support as well. Read story

Railway companies begin court battle over pensions role in franchising
Professional Pensions: A High Court battle has begun between the government and four railways companies after they were excluded from franchise bids due to their approach to the £27bn Railways Pension Scheme (RPS). Read story

Women working more hours since financial crisis, report finds
People Management: But experts question whether this marks progress, with female employees still working fewer hours for lower pay than men. Read story

KPMG employees use volunteer days to raise £1 million for NSPCC
Employee Benefits: As of January 2020, UK-based employees of professional services firm KPMG have used the organisation’s volunteering leave policy to help raise £1 million for staff charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Read story

Leeds Building Society and Huddersfield New College among Top 100 inclusive employers
Employee Benefits: The National Centre for Diversity (NCFD) has announced the UK’s Top 100 Index of organisations working to make work environments more inclusive. Included on the list are organisations such as Leeds Building Society, Galliford Try Highways and Huddersfield New College. Read story

UK based workers are amongst least likely to take sick days in Europe
Workplace Insight: According to time and attendance data from 2019 compiled by Mitrefinch, 53 percent more sick days were taken in January in the UK compared to all other months of the year. However, the data also suggests that UK based workers took just 4.4 days leave for sickness last year, the fourth lowest in Europe. Read story

'Significant shift' towards emotional and financial wellbeing
Cover: There has been a 30% increase in financial wellbeing strategies and a 27% increase in emotional wellbeing strategies led by employers, Aon's UK Benefits & Trends 2020 Survey has revealed. Focus on physical programmes, meanwhile, have remained static. Read story

GMB union blasts AA on DB closure plans
Pensions Age: AA, the roadside recovery provider, has announced a consultation on proposed changes to its defined benefit (DB) pension scheme, which the GMB union has described as a “nightmare” for members. Read story

Over 30 firms stop offering DB transfer advice
Pensions Age: Over 30 financial advice firms have stopped offering pension transfer advice in just three months, due to issues obtaining affordable professional indemnity cover, the Personal Finance Society (PFS) has revealed. Read story

UK: New high level of employment due to women in jobs
HR Review: The UK’s employment rate has reached a new all-time record of more than three-quarters, with over a quarter of this being attributed to women in full-time positions. Read story

Maps produces financial wellbeing strategy to deliver national goals
Professional Pensions: The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) has launched a financial wellbeing strategy to address poor financial wellbeing in the UK. Read story

Hargreaves Lansdown: Pension tax system a 'bloated, inefficient mess'
Professional Pensions: Only a “comprehensive rethink” will be able to fix the “bloated, inefficient mess” of the current pension tax system, says Hargreaves Lansdown head of policy Tom McPhail. Read story

Pension schemes bill to cost industry £818m in first year
Pensions Expert: The pensions industry faces an annual cost increase of £818m as a result of changes brought in by the pension schemes bill, with the new defined benefit funding regime and the pensions dashboard requiring the lion’s share of this investment. Read story

Two-thirds suffering musculoskeletal issues say work has made condition worse
Employee Benefits: More than two-thirds (68%) of people suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) say their occupation was a contributing factor to developing their condition, according to research by Wills Towers Watson. Read story

Aldi increases minimum pay for 33,000 employees to exceed real living wage
Employee Benefits: Supermarket chain Aldi has increased hourly pay rates for its 33,000 employees, to exceed the real living wage rates recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. Read story

Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague confirms £400,000 equal pay settlement with BBC
Employee Benefits: BBC Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague has confirmed that she was recently awarded a £400,000 settlement and received an apology from the BBC following discrepancies in her pay compared to male colleagues. Read story

EY staff sent to 'belonging' sessions after discrimination claims
HR Grapevine: Multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY), which is considered within the top four financial companies in the world, has announced that it is now sending staff to what it calls ‘belonging workshops’, following a string of high-profile complaints detailing accounts of discrimination and inappropriate behaviour at the firm. Read story

Workers often care more about income than work life balance
Workplace Insight: Financial success is important to employees around the globe but the importance of maintaining a work-life balance differs between cultures, new research from BI Norwegian Business School has suggested. Read story

How employers will use employee benefits to attract and retain the best staff in 2020
Employer News: Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing is advising organisations to carefully review and introduce more innovative employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees. Read story

Can Employees Claim Tax Relief on Household Expenses when Homeworking?
Incentive and Motivation: David Redfern, tax preparation specialist and Managing Director of DSR Tax Claims Ltd, explains which household expenses should not be included in your Self Assessment tax return and why. Read story

Employers missing out by not communicating employee benefits
HR Review: Just over a fifth of employers are communicating their employee benefits before the first day of employment, which is leading to businesses missing out on a “trick” as they prove a company cares for its staff. Read story

PLSA: Executive remuneration-related dissent at 'five year high' and 'major concern' for schemes
Professional Pensions: The number of remuneration-related resolutions that received significant levels of dissent during the 2019 AGM season was at a five-year high, according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA). Read story

Poor mental health costing businesses £45bn a year, report finds
People Management: Firms need to show ‘visible commitment’ to supporting staff, as research reveals productivity lost to presenteeism is four times greater than to absences. Read story

Emperor staff to own 67% stake under new employee-ownership model
Employee Benefits: Creative consultancy Emperor is transitioning to employee ownership through an employee ownership trust (EOT), affecting 200 employees in six locations across the UK and the Middle East. Read story

Only 13% of business leaders see staff financial wellbeing as a priority
Employee Benefits: Only 13% of employers include employee financial wellbeing as a top leadership priority, and just 4% see it as a top priority for HR, according to research by Neyber. Read story

Sainsbury’s CEO pension allowance to match workforce's
Pensions Age: Incoming Sainsbury’s chief executive, Simon Roberts, is set to receive a pension allowance in line with the benefits received by the supermarket chain’s workforce. Read story

Exec remuneration key concern for pension schemes
Pensions Age: Executive remuneration levels have remained a key concern for pension scheme shareholders over the last year, a Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) report has revealed. Read story

Make flexible working work for your business
HR News: Flexible working is no longer a ‘nice to have’ benefit, it’s an expectation for many employees. But while it might appear easy to deliver, it’s important to make sure your flexible working policy adequately meets the needs of your employees, operational structure and business culture. Read story

Flexible working productivity hindered by lack of tech training
HR Review: Despite two-thirds of workers saying flexible working increases their productivity, it is being hindered by the lack of training they have received regarding new technologies. Read story

UK April 2020: Paid bereavement leave for parents who lose a child
HR Review: Parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to two weeks paid statutory parental bereavement leave (SPBL), which MPs have said will make the UK the only country to have such a law for grieving parents. Read story

Mothercare secures revised payment schedule with pension trustees
Professional Pensions: The parent of collapsed UK retailer Mothercare has secured a revised payment schedule with its pension scheme trustees and said it is “on track” with its planned recapitalisation. Read story

Opperman urges schemes to act now and prepare dashboard data
Professional Pensions: Pension providers must now be proactive and prepare their data in order to be ready for the pensions dashboard, Guy Opperman has warned. Read story

Pensions experts predict RPI limbo for years to come
Pensions Expert: Experts have condemned delays in publishing a long-awaited consultation on reforms to the retail price index, since its outcome could radically alter the fortunes of pension funds and pensioners. Read story

HMRC publishes secondary draft legislation for April 2020 off-payroll reforms
Employee Benefits: On 22 January 2020, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) published draft secondary legislation for the off-payroll working rules (IR35) that are due to come into force in April this year. Read story

Parental bereavement leave legislation to be introduced in the UK in April 2020
Employee Benefits: The UK government has announced that April 2020 will see the implementation of new legislation providing two weeks of paid leave for working parents who suffer the loss of a child. Read story

Delta Air Lines pays out $1.6 billion in profit sharing to 90,000 employees
Employee Benefits: Air travel organisation Delta Air Lines is awarding its 90,000 employees with a cash bonus equivalent to two months’ pay, following the strong business performance in 2019. Read story

Mental health challenges cost employers £45 billion each year
Workplace Insight: A new report from Deloitte claims that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year. This is a rise of 16 percent since 2016 – an extra £6 billion a year. Read story

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