Editor’s comment

In these cash-strapped times, interest in voluntary benefits and salary sacrifice schemes is sure to gather pace among employers and employees.

Voluntary benefits enable employers to provide a benefits scheme that costs little, but which will also hit a spot with staff because of the savings they can make through discounts on products, services and leisure activities.

There are also savings to be made for the employer if the employee opts to sacrifice part of their salary in return for tax-efficient perks, such as childcare vouchers or bikes for work. The savings on national insurance (NI) contributions that would otherwise have had to be paid on the amount sacrificed may even enable an employer to cover the cost of a provider to administer and help communicate the voluntary benefits scheme to staff.

But simply providing a voluntary benefits plan is not enough. Employers must ensure it is valued by staff in order to get a return on investment, through increased employee engagement, reduced turnover or savings on NI contributions. This means offering discounts or value-added perks that can’t easily be found elsewhere, online or on the high street. It also means making sure employees know these benefits exist in the first place. Finally, the perks must appeal to the workforce, whether by meeting a desire to live a greener lifestyle, supporting childcare needs, or simply enabling them to make savings on household essentials or even treats.