The BBC has become the latest in a long list of UK employers to make changes to its final salary pension scheme.
Under the plans, announced today, new BBC employees will be barred from joining the scheme. New staff will have the option of joining a pension scheme where benefits are paid according to their average BBC career salary.
In addition, all pension benefits earned after 2016 will be paid at age 65, rather than 60 as at present. Pension contributions will rise to 7.5% of salary for current scheme members, which will rise to 9% of salary from April 2008.
BBC director general, Mark Thompson, said: “The pressures on the scheme mean that for it to remain secure and affordable, we have to make some changes both to its benefits and to the level at which it is funded by the BBC and its members. Doing nothing is not an option.”
But the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the changes would come as a “bitter blow” and mean future staff being left worse off, and have not ruled out a ballot for industrial action.
“The BBC will create a two-tier workforce, force some staff to work longer and expect all staff to pay more for the privilege of doing so,” said Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ.
Some 20,000 BBC staff belong to the pension scheme, making it one of the biggest in the UK.
The BBC joins a list of companies including Harrods, Rentokil, Travis Perkins, Co-op and Dairy Crest which have changed their pension arrangements.