BAT keeps flex bubbling with wine

British American Tobacco (BAT) has beefed up its flexible benefits scheme with a tax return service and cut-price wine.

Malcolm Douglas, remuneration and benefits manager at the cigarette group, said that employees could save hundreds of pounds by using the tax return service, which steers them through the self-assessment process.

"We’ve got quite a lot of well paid staff and all our staff are in share schemes; these are the sorts of things that trigger tax returns."

The service was previously part of the firm’s voluntary benefits package, and Douglas added that staff could save £100 straight away by getting their forms in on time and avoiding a penalty.

"With our scheme running from July, it’s the right time of year to be telling people about a tax return; we have P11Ds and so on all around us and tax forms arriving from the tax man."

Accountants complete returns for staff and offer advice on how they can minimise their tax liability. "You’ve still got to fill in some forms, but they manage you and hassle you through the process."

BAT has also brought in a discounted wine plan. Staff can order ready mixed cases, or cherry pick their own bottles, through the Laithwaites wine service. "There are no tax advantages but if you want a regular supply you can order up to three cases every quarter," he said.

The firm, which last year pioneered salary sacrifice mobile phones through flex, has added more networks, including O2, Vodafone and Orange, to the plan. "Each supplier has areas where coverage is not so good and if you’ve only got one supplier that rules you out of some areas."