Employers change contribution structure for auto-enrolment

EB Connect 2013: Employers need to consider their pension contribution structure when complying with auto-enrolment to ensure that it is future-proof.

During a panel session at Employee Benefits Connect on 1 March, pensions and benefits profiessionals from Heineken, British Airways (BA) and Marriott Hotels Europe discussed the lessons they have learned from auto-enrolment so far.

Carol Young, pensions manager at Heineken in the UK, explained the organisation offers staff a range of double-matched contribution options, including 3% to 6%, 5% to 10%, and 6% to 12% for some senior employees.

She added: “I would encourage you to think about some of that well in advance.”

Heineken got a head start on auto-enrolment, because it rolled out its auto-enrolment-compliant group personal pension (GPP) plan in July 2011 while it was closing its defined benefit (DB) pension scheme to future accrual. It currently has a 98% take-up in its GPP, months before its official staging date of 1 August 2013.

Meanwhile, BA began communicating auto-enrolment and its January 2013 staging date to staff in September 2012 during its annual pensions month.

Before auto-enrolment, it contractually enrolled staff into its trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension scheme at the highest level of contributions, but has since leveled it down to the lowest level: 1% for employees and 2% from the employer.

Janine Sparks, senior reward manager at BA, said: “This encourages people to stay in from the onset and then it is my job to encourage them to save more.”

Sarah Newsome, manager – compensation and benefits/employment law at Marriott Hotels Europe, said that the hotel group also leveled down to the minimum matched contribution from the employer for auto-enrolment. This used to start at a minimum of 3%, but now starts at 1%.