Northern Rock staff value sharesave

A Northern Rock staff survey has found that employees primarily view sharesave as a long-term investment, although tax restrictions are affecting take-up rates for its share incentive plan.

In September’s survey on employee attitudes to sharesave, the bank found that 49% of respondents saw it as an investment for the future, while 36% considered it a good way to save.

Paula Germaney, shareholder relations manager at Northern Rock, said: "Our employees love sharesave, some people had profits of £60k this year. Of those who responded [to the survey] 78% were part of sharesave."

Germaney believes that the HM Customs and Excise-imposed savings cap of £250 a month for sharesave should be increased, while the five year tax taper on share incentive plans (Sip) should be reduced to three years.

"We have found that it has a knock-on effect on our share incentive plans because we offer a cash alternative as well. We have seen the percentage take up of Sip drop, because of this. So we could do with pushing it up to £350 on sharesave and we definitely need to bring the time period on Sip down to three years," she said.

However, she felt that last month’s decrease in bonus rates for sharesave would have no impact on the bank’s schemes. For example, the rates have been reduced to 1.4 times monthly contribution for a three-year scheme – to 2.49% down from 3.37% in 2004.