University of Glasgow switches staff to salary sacrifice pension plan

The University of Glasgow has automatically enrolled employees into a salary sacrifice arrangement for making pension contributions.

The university administers two defined benefit schemes: its own final salary plan and the industry-wide Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). Members of both were automatically placed into the salary sacrifice arrangement, but given the opportunity to opt out. The move is expected to save the university some £1 million a year in national insurance contributions.

James Ross, head of pay and pensions at the university, said: “The main [driver] was the saving we could make, it was too big not to do.”

All suitable employees were automatically switched onto the salary sacrifice scheme in October, when the take-up rate was 95%.

Employees were informed about the salary sacrifice scheme as part of a communications exercise that involved rebranding the university’s benefits package as ‘Benefits Plus’. The package includes childcare vouchers.

The move follows a decision by the USS to change its rules to allow salary sacrifice from April 2007.

Following the change, six higher education institutes, including Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh and Herriot-Watt University, appointed Watson Wyatt to advise them each on implementing salary sacrifice for their pension schemes.