Linklaters overhauls pensions with auto-enrolment and new contribution structure

Linklaters has overhauled its pension arrangements by introducing auto-enrolment for new employees, salary sacrifice on pension contributions and a new contribution structure. The move follows staff feedback saying that the previous structure was difficult to understand.

A third of the law firm’s 2,500-strong UK workforce has signed up to the new terms for its group personal pension (GPP) plan. Under the new contribution structure, the organisation contributes 3% of annual salary for all employees, even if they do not contribute anything. Employees who do make a contribution will receive an additional matching contribution from the organisation up to a maximum of 5%, although staff can pay in as much as they want.

New staff will be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme under the revised contribution structure, with an opt-out period of 30 days from the date they join the firm.

All staff were given the option to remain in the old contribution structure, which has been in place since 1996 and is based on employees’ age, salary and individual contributions. David Jones, reward manager, said: “It was not feasible to introduce a new structure that was beneficial to everybody [because] some employees were receiving contributions of up to 16%. Therefore, it was decided to run two contribution structures in parallel.”

The savings made by the organisation on national insurance contributions due to the salary sacrifice arrangement will be used to offset the slight increase in cost of the new pension arrangement.

The changes to the pension scheme were communicated to staff using confidential emails containing personal pension details and a link to an intranet site explaining the new structure. The firm also held a series of presentations for staff, which were attended by 650 employees during a six-week period.

Nikki Matthews, HR adviser for reward and benefits, said: “The level of interest was incredibly high and made clear the appetite among staff to understand benefits better.”

Linklaters has also made changes to its international pension plan, mirroring the new structure in order to achieve consistency and remove barriers to global mobility.

The law firm is in the process of conducting an internal review which could result in job cuts later this year.