Three raises pensions take up to 80%

EXCLUSIVE: Three has increased its pension scheme take up from 68% of staff to 80% following auto-enrolment.

The mobile phone organisation auto-enrolled 702 eligible employees on 1 October after it had postponed from 1 July to align the process with its flexible benefits enrolment window.

Seth Russell, director of reward at Three, said: “We had planned to get to 75% [take up]. We’re a bit above.

“It’s better than we expected with our young demographic, especially in retail, given that a lot of them are graduates with student loans to pay off.”

Out of the 702 eligible employees, 272 had decided during the three-month postponement period that they would opt out of Three’s existing group personal pension (GPP) plan, which is provided by Aviva. The additional 38 employees made the decision to opt out following auto-enrolment on 1 October.

Three also changed its contribution structure. Head office employees previously received a maximum 8% employer contribution for a minimum employee contribution of 2%. On its staging date in July 2013, this was changed to a 4.5% employee and a 4.5% employer contribution.

For employees who work at Three’s call centres and retail shops the organisation previously contributed 3% as a maximum, while employees could choose to contribute nothing. This has been increased to a 3.5% maximum from the employer and 2.5% minimum from employees from July 2013, and will rise further to 4.5% for both the employer and the employees in October 2017.

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Russell added: “We wanted to do things a bit more flexibly than route everyone into pensions, because our view is that we need to give as much choice as possible to employees with the demographics of our staff.

”It has been a long journey. We deliberately decided to work very closely with internal communications and the business to make sure that all the changes were properly communicated and quite extensively discussed with managers and employees.”