Whitbread adapts pension for auto-enrolment

EXCLUSIVE: Whitbread has launched a dedicated pensions website and adapted its existing trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension scheme to comply with auto-enrolment.

The organisation, which owns brands such as Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, reached its staging date on 1 January 2013.

Its DC scheme now includes new contributions calculations to align with auto-enrolment and a new contributions refund process for employees who opt out. The website, meanwhile, includes interfaces to and from its auto-enrolment assessment hub.

Lesley Williams, group pensions director at Whitbread, said the project was a big challenge. “It’s very complicated. We have many systems that have to talk to one another, and a huge number of people across HR, payroll and several third parties working on the solution.

“We’ve got 40,000 employees and everything has to be automated. We’ve had to change our payroll system and all of our pensions administration in order to accommodate auto-enrolment’s requirements.

“Pension administration has had to upskill to deal with queries about auto-enrolment. They have new processes to align with the auto-enrolment regulations, such as holding contributions and defaults for members who are not choosing to join.”

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The website can be accessed externally or via Whitbread’s intranet site. Employees can log in to see tailored views of their individual pension information.

Williams will join a panel discussion on the lessons learned from auto-enrolment at Employee Benefits Connect on 1 March.