News update – New laws spur bank to scrap age-basing

Bank of America, the international retail and investment bank, has scrapped its age-based pension contributions to adhere to incoming age discrimination laws. The changes to the pension contributions were made when the scheme was put into a new flexible benefits package that was launched this autumn. The bank now contributes 6% of annual salary for all employees regardless of age, and then matches employee contributions up to a further 6%. For those employees with more than 15 years’ service the bank will also match contributions up to an additional 3%. This means that combined contributions for all employees are capped at 18% of annual earnings, and 24% for staff with 15 years’ service. Paul Hucknall (pictured), head of HR, EMEA and Asia at Bank of America, said: "We took an opportunity to review the pension provision, as previously we had an age-related contribution structure, and in view of the potential age discrimination issues from October 2006, we thought it was a good time to review it. We’ve flattened the contribution structure and introduced a matching pension at the same time." About 90% of staff increased their pension contributions following the introduction of the new basis on which the bank paid into the scheme. Separately 81% of the bank’s 2,100 UK staff made changes to their benefits package after the flexible benefits scheme was introduced. Some 38% of staff elected life assurance while 26% of staff took part in holiday trading. The scheme also included learning accounts providing a matched contribution for the costs of part-time education. Feedback surveys revealed 72% of employees rated the package as good or very good. Hucknall said the flexible benefits scheme is being used as a key tool in their recruitment efforts. "The company is growing in Europe. We’re attracting new employees all the time, in a very competitive industry," added Hucknall.