United Utility staff trade pay for further benefits


By Quentin Reade


United Utilities has launched a company-wide flexible benefits scheme that allows staff to trade off their salaries against other work perks.


The water and telecoms giant is rolling out the new scheme to its 4,000 staff in support of a culture change programme.


Last year, the company re-branded as United Utilities, following the merger of North West Water and Norweb in 1996.


HR manager Heather Lee explained that employees can choose extra benefits online – for a lowering of their salary – including more holidays, medical insurance or childcare vouchers.


She said the scheme was a good motivation tool and would promote the decision-making skills of employees.


The HR team pushed for all employees having access to the scheme when it was launched last month, but this involved training staff who had never used a computer before to use the online system.


Employees who do not normally have access to a computer will be able to use dedicated kiosks placed in work areas. Staff were given two weeks to enrol, and there has been a 20 per cent take up for this year’s scheme.


The programme will run for a year, and then the list of products and services will be reviewed. Staff who choose to take all the holiday benefits can ‘buy’ up to 33 days’ holiday.


The most popular choices were extra holidays and a PC leasing scheme for home computers: “We had designed the scheme in partnership with employees so we knew it was going to be popular. It enables employees to choose for themselves what suits them best,” said Lee.


Lee said United Utilities has also introduced a paperless system for employees to claim overtime, expenses and book time off.

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