Tsunami focuses pay giving

Organisations across the UK have been helping staff raise millions of pounds to assist victims of the tsunami tragedy. And benefits bosses are being urged to use their positions to provide further support. Payroll giving and one-off salary sacrifice donations have been popular options as they allow more money to be donated through tax relief. System C Healthcare, which provides IT support for the NHS, is launching a payroll giving scheme this month to celebrate over 20 years in business, and found that this enabled employees to raise funds for their chosen charities, including the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The firm, which is also matching any employee raised funds, contributed an extra £21 per employee to the charities as well as a £10,000 one-off donation. Bupa expects to raise over £250,000 by combining its payroll giving and a number of fundraising events. Monica Owen, community affairs manager at the international healthcare group, which has a number of offices in the affected regions, said: "Payroll giving really is an opportunity to increase your contribution. We’re encouraging people to use the scheme so that whatever sized contribution they give, it’s really increased because of the tax efficiencies of it."

Andy Lister, head of employee benefits at provider The Grass Roots Group, said: "Benefits managers are in a great position to help and these Inland Revenue approved schemes are really easy to set up." Firms with less than 500 employees can also take advantage of a new government scheme that rewards them with a £500 incentive if they set up such a plan. Pressure washer company K‰rcher has been holding fundraising events to collect money including staff car washes and charity auctions with prizes such as VIP tickets to watch Manchester United. Kate Bothwell, HR administrator at K‰rcher UK, said that the events not only created a great sense of team spirit but also raised much needed funds. She added that its parent company has donated drinking water treatment plants free to areas where fresh water has been spoilt.

BT has been organising for staff to help the DEC by making sure its phone lines and website were staffed and could withstand large volumes of visitors. It has also been helping to stop fraudsters siphon money via the internet and has been tracking its employees caught up in the region, providing support services if needed. HSBC is encouraging employees and their families who have lost relatives and friends to use its counselling services. The bank, which is helping account for staff who were in the area at the time, has also said that it will match all employee donations up to $1m. Multinational organisations are being advised that if they are collecting money from staff it is best to do this locally in order to take advantage of tax relief laws. For instance, if a global firm has a UK operation it is encouraged to put money through payroll so more money can go to the charities.