News update – Horse trade in bid to stabilise staff terms

The British Horseracing Board (BHB) has published the results of the first stage of a drive to revamp pay and benefits for stable yard employees.

The industry, which has come under fire due to the perceived low wages and number of suicides among stable workers, set up the Stable and Stud Staff Steering Group in a bid to improve recruitment and standardise terms.

Sara Hay-Jahans, head of industry training and recruitment at the BHB, said: "It was identified in an earlier report that there were issues in a number of different areas. In terms of attracting people into the industry career development, pay and benefits need to be competitive [which was not always the case]."

Although the group is working on improving a number of areas, pensions are perceived as particularly important.

Employees currently have access to an industry stakeholder scheme in which they receive contributions from their employer but don’t have to contribute to themselves.

Hay-Jahans added this doesn’t reflect the needs of the industry’s often mobile and seasonal workforce, particularly in cases such as international staff who receive pension contributions for several years before returning to their home country and are unable to take pension funds with them.

It is currently consulting with a number of bodies such as the Trainer’s Federation and Stable Staff Association on how to best improve the scheme.

Educating staff about the necessity of saving for retirement is also a priority. "Very few people actually appreciate the importance [of pensions]. Not everyone even takes up the employer contribution. We need to find a way of [offering] some financial education. It’s all part of how we’ll improve pensions provision," said Hay-Jahans.

The BHB currently doesn’t have a strict timescale in which to implement any changes but hopes to do so this year.