News update – Nationwide looks to revamp flex scheme

Nationwide Building Society has overhauled its flexible benefits, including medical insurance products, to comply with incoming age discrimination law.

It follows a change in policy in July by the building society to increase the age up to which staff can work from 70 to 75 years old (see July 2005 issue).

But as many of Nationwide’s medical benefits have an upper limit of 65 years the organisation has tried to bring them in line with its flexible retirement plans.

For instance, core cover under the private medical insurance, was previously only available to those employees who were aged 60 years or less. This has now been extended to employees aged up to 75 years. PMI is offered to employees through Nationwide’s flexible benefits scheme.

But Nationwide has not been able to negotiate age extensions on all benefits. Actuaries have refused to provide cover for employees above 65 years for the Positive Care Cancer Plan.

Evan Davidge, rewards consultant at Nationwide, said: “The insurance market is grappling with the problem and the potential risks that [flexible retirement] presents [to the industry].”

Davidge added that Nationwide took legal advice on its position and will continue to review products that do not fit comfortably with flexible retirement.

Nationwide has also introduced new benefits into its flex scheme, including mobile phones and £50-£200 for corporate clothing vouchers per person.