Punch Taverns introduces flexible benefits plan

Punch Taverns has introduced a range of perks to all staff through a new flexible benefits scheme this month.

This follows consolidation of its pension plans in July. Called ‘The Benefits Bar’, the flex scheme is available to 2,700 salaried employees, ranging from head office support staff to pub managers.

Anthony York, head of reward at Punch Taverns, said: “Our employees are diverse and spread across the UK,
with salaries ranging from under £10,000 to over £500,000. They are broken down into salaried and hourly-paid staff, so a lot of them have variable hours and are near the minimum national wage.”

The flex scheme went live on 1 January, with an expanded online portal provided by Vebnet. York said the scheme was launched to cater to the diverse needs of a varied workforce.

The pub chain had a fairly limited suite of benefits before this launch. Only a portion of staff could flex holiday, and childcare vouchers were in place. The new scheme includes critical illness insurance, bikes for work, retail vouchers, a computer scheme, dental insurance and a share incentive plan.

In July 2010, Punch Taverns consolidated a variety of pensions into a single group personal pension (GPP)
scheme and introduced salary sacrifice.

Contributions were changed to a matching structure so that employee-to-employer ratios are now 1% to 2%, 3% to 5%, 4% to 7%, and 5% to 9%.

York added: “It was done to give employees the option to retain their previous levels of employer contribution, but do it on a basis that was fair to all. We also did it to try to increase take-up.”

In 2007, Punch cut its reward spend by £1 million without affecting benefits. By converting its pensions to salary sacrifice, it is saving national insurance, but the 2010 flex scheme was not rolled out just to make additional savings, said York.

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