Pension Quality Mark backed by top employers

Top employers including Kellogg’s and Accenture have thrown their weight behind the new Pension Quality Mark, saying it will improve awareness of pension benefits and aid staff recruitment.

The mark, launched by the National Association of Pensions Funds (NAPF), is awarded to employers that contribute 6% or more to their defined contribution schemes, and can prove their scheme is run in its members’ best interests and is well communicated.

There is an additional Mark Plus award for businesses offering schemes with 10% employer contributions.

Tom Stevenson, pension manager at Kellogg’s, which was awarded the Pensions Quality Mark Plus, told Personnel Today the mark would help to highlight the value of the benefits to potential new recruits and current employees.

He said: “In pensions we are actually limited in what we can tell our employees about the pension schemes. You can’t come out all guns blazing because then you are offering financial advice. The mark is our demonstration that it is a good scheme.

“Pensions are very important to use for recruitment and retention. When people want to come to us, the pension is the second major benefit after salary, but many don’t realise the importance and worth of the pension scheme, and the Mark Plus award demonstrates this.”

Yvonne Pearce, UK&I pensions director at management consulting company Accenture, which was also awarded the Mark Plus for its scheme covering more than 5,000 members, added the award was necessary to counter negative information about pensions, and would also help to boost recruitment and retention by “differentiating us from the pack”.

But smaller employers have criticised the scheme, saying although they can offer generous pensions they are excluded from receiving the mark because their size makes it difficult to match the 6% employer contribution rates.

Denise Bradley, HR manager at The Health Store, said: “Most small- and medium-sized employers contribute 5% so they would be excluded. The employer contribution rate should be a bit lower – 6% is high. I think 5% would be sufficient, and that would enable smaller employers to get involved.”

The NAPF said it would now investigate extending the mark to cover defined benefit schemes.

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