Firms ahead of deadline on stakeholder pensions

More than a fifth of firms have introduced some form of contributory pension
scheme for their employees over the past year, according to research.

Virgin Direct’s second annual survey of workplace perks reveals that ahead
of the new rules on stakeholder pensions the number of firms offering a pension
with contributions rose from 26 per cent to 48 per cent in 2001.

The survey also shows that 89 per cent of UK staff believe a pension that
their employer pays into is the most important benefit.

Karen Thornber, head of HR at Virgin Direct, believes the increase in the
number of companies paying into staff pensions is because of new rules on
stakeholder pensions, which are due to come into force next month.

She said, "For the second year running, UK workers have put a pension
that their employer pays into at the top of their wish list and, happily,
bosses are getting the message as 22 per cent more firms are doing just that
compared to a year ago.

"Although legally firms employing five or more staff will have to offer
a pension scheme by 8 October, companies do not have to pay into them, so the
fact that they are putting their hands in their pockets is tremendous

But the study also shows requests for family friendly benefits at work are
being largely ignored by employers.

More than half of all employees want crèche facilities, but only 3 per cent
have them. Only 24 per cent receive paid paternity leave.

By Ben Willmott


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