Most people in the UK these days tend to have online access for their bank accounts which we can see via a desktop PC, tablet or mobile phone. This is access is really useful as it allows us to track our own money and understand in an instant, what funds we have.

Although slow to come to the party, all major providers of Workplace pensions now also offer this on-line facility to allow members to have visibility of their pension via one or all of these above methods. It is important to note however this is very much driven by how old or new the contract you have is, with older style contracts not generally being available online.

Every provider’s on-line offering will be different, but the most commonly available online features allow you to:

  • See an up to date value of your pension
  • See where your monies are invested, i.e. which investment funds you are investing within
  • Change your investment strategy if required
  • See how much you are currently investing into your pension
  • See what your selected retirement date is on your pension
  • Change your target retirement age – if the default one is no longer appropriate
  • Make changes to your home address or other personal details
  • Update your nomination of beneficiaries for death benefit purposes

If you haven’t already done so then we would strongly recommend that you take 5-10 minutes to register for online services with all pensions, where available, that you may have accrued over the years. Details of how to do this will be shown on the latest pension statement that you would have received from your pension provider.

If you can’t find your latest statement, don’t remember receiving one or have any questions whatsoever regarding online access then please contact your pension provider and they will be able to help.

When employers think about employee wellbeing, they often think about employee sickness absence and how to manage and reduce this. However, research demonstrates that presenteeism is just as big a risk to businesses.

What is presenteeism?

Presenteeism is when employees come to work but experience decreased productivity and quality of work due to health problems.

A study by health insurer Vitality has found that more than 40% of employees said their work was being affected by health issues – a figure that’s risen by a third over the last five years. The study found that people are putting aside both mental and physical health problems to attend work.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also found evidence of unhealthy trends in the workplace in its 2019 annual ‘Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey’. The CIPD survey found that more than four-fifths (83%) of its respondents had observed presenteeism in their organisation, and a quarter (25%) said the problem had got worse since the previous year.

Research conducted by Group Risk insurer Canada Life also shows that nine out of ten of workers say they have gone into work when feeling ill, the equivalent to 29 million employees and that casual presenteeism’ is on the rise with one in five admitting they monitor work emails in their spare time and check emails first thing in the morning.

Why are employees doing this?

Canada Life’s research show the main reasons employees gave for going into work when unwell are:
1. Feeling their illness doesn’t warrant a day off (58%)
2. High workloads have forced them to go into work when unwell (27%)
3. Concerned about the financial implications of taking time off (23%)
4. Not wanting to handover important work to colleagues unless really necessary (18%)
5. Made to feel guilty for taking time off by other colleagues/senior members of staff (18%)
6. They don’t feel secure enough in their job/feel threatened by the risk of redundancy to take time off for illness (12%)
7. Concerned that they won’t be able to secure a doctor’s note (8%)

What can employers do?

In some circumstances presenteeism may be a result of workplace culture. Employers could improve the perception of illness in the workplace so employees feel secure that they won’t be seen as weak, lazy or less dedicated for taking time off with a short-term illness. Promoting a more positive attitude to health and wellbeing could be hugely beneficial to a business.

There are a number of measures which could be taken to help employees feel more comfortable taking time off when they need it to recuperate, such as:

• Flexible working
• A reduced workload
• Less pressure to be ‘always on’ and working
• Workplace support, such as an Employee Assistance Programme and ‘Early intervention’ services

Having the measures in place is not always enough though, the Canada Life research illustrated a lack of awareness about workplace support for sickness absence. Nearly half (47%) of employees said they were not aware of any form of support in their organisation with only 17% saying their employer had an Employee Assistance Programme in place. This highlights the importance of not only having the services in place but communicating them clearly and regularly to staff in order to improve employee wellbeing.

Wingate Benefit Solutions can help you to develop an effective health and wellbeing strategy, to include support services to help your business promote wellbeing in the workplace and re-assure staff that support is in place when they need it the most. If you would like to find out more, please contact us at Wingate.

Making the Most of Your Employee Assistance Program

October saw World Mental Health Day which certainly helps raise awareness. Clearly, we should all be giving this subject thought on a regular basis and not wait for these annual reminders.

One resource employers’ can rely on are Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). This invaluable support mechanism is often included within insurance products such as Group Life Assurance, Income Protection and Health Cash Plans. Should an employer not have access to an EAP through such products, standalone versions are available at relatively low costs to a business.

Making your Employee Assistance Program available is one thing, but to really make the most of this indispensable resource for your employees, you need to promote the benefits, outline how easy they are to access and how your company is helping employees manage their lives better. Consider the following steps to promote the benefits of your EAP programme to your employees:

Designate people to be your ‘EAP Champions’ within your company

Hearing first-hand how helpful your Employee Assistance Program is from another employee can motivate your staff to try it.  Directors, colleagues, managers, HR professionals — anyone with a positive EAP experience can provide a compelling testimonial as to the benefits of your EAP programme, the more senior the person making the personal endorsement, the better.

One approach we have found works well is to advertise the launch/relaunch/existence of your EAP by circulating a general communication of recommendation from the CEO, (or MD or similar high-ranking individual) praising the service and openly inviting everyone in the organisation to give it a try.

Better still, upload the CEO recommendation on to your staff intranet and make sure to include it with any induction pack materials for new starters. A senior member of staff admitting that they have used the EAP service and that it has helped them, can really break the ice and works well against any stigma associated with seeking help.  It can also help putting to rest any qualms relating to the confidentiality of the service.

Promote awareness of the Employee Assistance Program throughout the year

Continually sounding the bell on your EAP is critical to driving engagement. The need for EAP services is not seasonal, it is year-round, so the promotion of it should be as well. Keep an eye out for topical themes and awareness days so you can use these an opportunity to spread awareness of the benefits available.

Most EAP providers will be able to help you with additional wellbeing support and EAP promotional material.

Promote awareness of the Employee Assistance Program throughout the year

Continually sounding the bell on your EAP is critical to driving engagement. The need for EAP services is not seasonal, it is year-round, so the promotion of it should be as well. Keep an eye out for topical themes and awareness days so you can use these an opportunity to spread awareness of the benefits available.

Most EAP providers will be able to help you with additional wellbeing support and EAP promotional material.

Promote all the of services available in your Employee Assistance Program

No matter how minor a feature may appear, it could be important to someone. Be sure to give each feature its time in the spotlight, be it stress management, the employee wellbeing website, health and wellness materials, structured support sessions, legal/financial information, child & elder care support and so on.

Highlight the Work/Life resources available in your EAP

Emphasising the features that support a healthy work/life balance is an excellent way to get employees interested in the Employee Assistance Program. Companies whose employees take advantage of these services can experience many benefits, including improved morale, lower turnover, drops in employee presenteeism and being more likely to be seen as an employer of choice.

Consider your Employee Assistance Program an extension of your HR department

Most EAP clinicians offer more than just administrative and onward referral services. They are also highly experienced in workplace dynamics and can help you discover new ways to enhance productivity and morale and improve employee engagement.  They can help support not only employees but also team leaders and supervisors with skills such as Stress Management, Supporting Bereavement, Dealing with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace and much more.

Wingate Benefit Solutions can help ensure that you have the support in place for your staff by either providing you with full details of how you can implement this benefit or to provide you with the support and tools to promote the benefits of your existing EAP to your staff. If you would like to find out more, please contact us at Wingate.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its annual survey of occupational pension schemes in June 2019 and this identified some interesting trends in relation to Workplace Pensions. One of the key statistics that instantly jumped out at me, was a surge in the number of dormant pensions in recent years.

Since auto enrolment was introduced, the number of active members (i.e. those contributing to a private sector pension) has more than doubled from 7.8 million in 2012 to 17.3 million in 2018. This is good news and an indication of how successful the government’s pension reforms have been; however, it also poses a problem in that it has created an increase in small dormant pension pots as people move jobs, which happens far more often than previous generations, and with each new job comes a new pension. But what are people doing with their previous pension funds? For many, it appears the answer is nothing!

To be more specific, the ONS Survey showed there were 18 million dormant pensions in 2018, up from 15.8 million in 2017 – these being ‘old’ workplace pensions to which contributions have ceased. The increasing number of small pension pots is making it harder for millions of savers to manage their money and understand what they will receive when they get to retirement; meaning a vast number of people may be set for disappointment when they do.

It’s concerning that, according to estimates by the Department for Work and Pensions, up to 50 million pension pots will be lost by 2050 without a vehicle to help workers keep track of savings through their careers. Although insurance providers make considerable efforts and spend millions every year trying to reunite people with lost or forgotten pensions, providers are unable to keep pace with a mobile workforce that moves jobs and homes more often than ever before.

This illustrates a need for the Pension’s Dashboard more than ever (something highlighted by my colleague Richard Grover in his opinion piece in April 2019) enabling people to see all their pension savings, including the State Pension, together in a single online area. Until that time, it makes sense for savers to be more proactive when it comes to their pensions. Some clear guidance to an employee from a qualified professional may mean the difference between that person understanding the value of their ‘old’ pension in the context of their overall pension picture and possibly transferring this into their new plan, or them potentially losing track of it completely.

At Wingate we have designed a pension engagement service for employers to try and de-jargonise pensions for employees, with a view to getting staff engaged with pensions and planning their futures. If you are looking to understand how pension education can help increase employee appreciation of your pension arrangement, then please feel free to contact us at:

@: info@wingatebs.com  or   t: 01883 332260

Below are links to our online Pension Scheme Member Questionnaires:

  • Investment Risk Profiling: For those who want to understand if their current investment choice is appropriate
  • Retirement Projection: For those who want to understand the potential retirement benefits available from their pension and compare these against a target

If you have any questions whilst completing any of these questionnaires please contact the Corporate Pension Support Team on 01883 332260 or at corp-support@wingatebs.com.

What is Cash Flow Planning?

We analyse your income and expenditure and forecast this for your future lifetime taking in to consideration your personal circumstances, savings and debt along with your short, medium and long term goals.

These goals could including funding your children’s or grandchildren’s school or university fees, purchasing a second property at home or abroad, understanding when you want to slow down and ultimately stop working to travel more and live your dreams and ambitions.

We use advanced planning tools to create a lifetime cash flow plan which will identify how likely you are to achieve your goals and help you prioritise and identify the actions you may need to address to aid your journey towards financial independence.

Is this service right for you?

The service is designed for individuals who want to take control of their financial future and understand not only where they are heading but also the implications potential decisions or events may have on their future cash flow and financial goals.

Creating your Plan

We work with you to gather details about your current financial situation; your assets, liabilities and expenditure.  We listen to your hopes and dreams but also to the worries that keep you awake at night and help you to clearly define your most important goals.

We then create your plan and test various scenario’s to reflect some of the uncertainties that life brings

 

 

 

In a move that could increase the Treasury’s annual revenue by up to £1.75 billion, the Chancellor announced in the Summer Budget that the standard rate of UK Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) will increase from 6% to 9.5% from 1st November 2015.
IPT is a tax on general insurance premiums and there are two rates: the standard rate applying to products such as home and contents, motor and private medical and cashplan insurance.  There is a higher rate of 20% that applies to travel, mechanical/electrical appliance insurance and some specialist vehicle insurance, although this has not been affected by the change.

The new standard rate will be due on premiums received on or after 1st November 2015, except where insurers operate a special accounting scheme. In that case, the new rate is only applied to premiums relating to risks covered by the terms of a contract entered into after 1st November 2015; however, from 1st March 2016, the new rate applies to all premiums, regardless of when the contract was entered into.

Insurers are concerned about whether this represents part of a gradual move towards aligning the IPT rate with the VAT rate of 20%, something that is quite common in other EU member states.

In terms of the affect of this change on employers, we expect most medical and cashplan insurance providers to simply add the additional tax to their normal rates, meaning that most clients with these schemes should expect to be offered renewal terms with a larger than usual increase at the next renewal.  In turn this will increase an employee’s taxable benefit as IPT is included in the employee’s P11D liability figure. It is therefore essential that all options are considered, including possibly potential alternative insurers and policy structures to ensure you minimise the affect of the IPT increase wherever possible.

Also, if you have been considering establishing a new medical insurance or cashplan scheme for your employees you may wish to consider implementing these prior to 1st November 2015 whilst IPT at it’s current lower rate.

If you would like a no cost, no obligation review of your existing benefit schemes and/or wish to discuss the options around establishing a new employee benefit scheme please contact us on 01883 332260.

All statements concerning the tax treatment of products and their benefits are based on our understanding of current tax law and HM Revenue and Customs’ practice. Levels and bases of tax relief are subject to change. This is information is not provided as advice or a recommendation.