Flexible benefits schemes get heavyweight support

Chief executives and finance directors are increasingly taking an active interest in flexible benefit schemes as they realise the positive impact that they can have on business performance.

According to a survey by HR services firm Hewitt Associates, the number of companies interested in implementing flexible benefits schemes has continued to rise, with more than half of the respondents either already implementing a plan or considering doing so in the next few years.

The 11th annual survey on UK Employer Attitudes to Flexible Benefits, questioned 190 organisations across all industry sectors. More than 50 per cent said their chief executives were involved in the decisions over the introduction and management of flexible benefits.

Nearly half the respondents also reported close involvement of the finance director – a significant increase on last year’s figure of less than 20 per cent.

Hewitt Associates’ survey also revealed that the top three reasons used for constructing a business case for implementing flexible benefits schemes were all cost driven – the ability to achieve harmonisation of terms without increased cost (32 per cent), National Insurance savings (26 per cent), and the ability to contain future benefit cost increases (21 per cent).

Phil Murray, a consultant on flexible benefits at Hewitt Associ-ates, said: “These results point to a greater high-level engagement as company leaders understand the importance of flexible benefits to their businesses.”

The survey also showed that the majority of new flexible benefits schemes include pensions.

Murray said: “We are likely to see much more demand for flexible benefits. Employers have pensions simplification measures to implement from April 2006, potential National Insurance savings and the move towards defined contribution pension schemes – all of which are more suited to greater flexibility.”


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