O2 to launch online flexible benefits

Telecommunications firm O2 is to launch an online flexible benefits scheme for its 12,000 UK employees.

Staff will be able to select their first round of benefits through the scheme in May, and their choices will then come into effect in July.

O2 plans to initially run a short flex year from 1 July to 31 December to introduce employees to the concept of flexible benefits and how the scheme operates, before embarking on a full flex year in January 2008.

The scheme includes some of the company’s existing perks, such as childcare vouchers and a defined contribution pension scheme, alongside new benefits, which include critical illness cover, travel insurance, dental insurance, a healthcare cash plan, retail vouchers and a wine club.

Tina Clayton, head of pensions and benefits at O2, said that the plan had been tailored to suit the company’s workforce. "We have profiled staff and wanted to make sure that there was something in the scheme for everyone, depending on their lifestyle," she explained.

The firm has been working to launch a flexible benefits scheme since it introduced total reward statements in March 2006 to educate staff about benefits and their value."[That] was the education piece that preceded flex, [which] we wanted to give staff to help them understand what they already had, and [for them] then to make educated choices around benefits in 2007," said Clayton.

To help communicate the scheme to staff, the company has nominated 100 employees as ‘flex champions’. These staff have been educated about the new flexible benefits scheme, and are based across the country, so that all employees have a colleague they can go to for more information.

O2’s announcement of a flexible benefits programme follows a similar move by its fellow mobile telecoms operator Vodafone, which was exclusively revealed in Employee Benefits last month.