Debi O’Donovan, editor of Employee Benefits: Election must not derail key benefits strategies

This election year is putting a bit of a spanner in the works when it comes to planning pensions and benefits strategies. Depending on which opinion polls you believe, there may be a change in government from Labour to Conservative in the next few months. In the meantime, any strategies related to current Labour policy are potentially in doubt. So why go full steam ahead with an initiative when it might all change?

Workplace pensions are most affected. Many employers, consultants and advisers are wondering if the 2012 reforms will go ahead in their current form if there is a change at the top. We know of a few large employers that have put the brakes on any pension reviews or changes until after the election. To this end, we asked several key players in pensions whether employers should continue to plan for the reforms before the election (see page 19). Sadly, one of the most important players, the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority, decided at the last minute not to answer our question for political reasons – which is disconcerting at a time when employers are looking for answers and putting changes on hold.

The other area that may be affected by a change of government, albeit to a lesser extent, is workplace health and wellbeing. The work done by Dame Carol Black and the Department of Work and Pensions is this year turning from research and strategy into action by employers. Let us hope that whichever party takes the country’s reins later this year will allow this work to continue.

The link between health, wellbeing, engagement and workplace productivity is being made ever stronger with much more evidence emerging about the cost and business benefits of implementing wellbeing in the workplace. There is no question of parties outside Labour disagreeing with this, there has simply been a dearth of views from them on workplace wellbeing as politicians with an interest in health concentrate on individual healthcare and pressures on the NHS.

Regardless of the election, Employee Benefits has decided to tackle these topics head-on in two high-level events in April and May (read move about our events). We believe people need to save more for retirement and businesses would benefit greatly from better workplace wellbeing practices, whoever runs the country. We aim to help drive these agendas forward without political bias.