Northern Rock simplifies communication for staff

Northern Rock has set up a helpline and sent out newsletters to its 5,500 employees explaining the forthcoming changes pensions tax simplification will bring on April 6.

Peter Ferguson, senior personnel manager at Northern Rock, admitted that not all employees will be immediately affected by the changes, in particular the new lifetime allowance of £1.5m. Nevertheless, Ferguson said it was important to inform all employees of the changes and to give them the opportunity to raise any questions about A-day.

"We issued a statement to all employees about the consequences of A-day, and have offered one-to-one sessions for those employees who feel they are affected," he added.

The bank has yet to make any major changes to scheme rules in relation to pensions simplification.

However, Northern Rock is looking at the rules surrounding retirement age and is considering allowing flexible retirement.

"We are looking at our scheme and what it is we offer, and we may allow employees to draw their pension at 60 years and continue to work until the new retirement age [of 65 years]," added Ferguson.

Northern Rock has a final salary scheme, which was closed to new members in 1999, and a money purchase scheme.

The amount the bank pays in terms of matched contributions is linked to age. Those employees aged over 50 years receive a matched contribution of 3%, those aged between 30 to 34 years receive a contribution of 2%, and those employees under 30 years are entitled to a matched contribution of 1%.