EC Harris rolls out flex across nine European countries to align benefits

Property consultancy EC Harris has rolled out flexible benefits and online total reward statements (TRS) to employees across nine European countries in an attempt to give all staff the same benefits opportunities.

EC Harris employees in the UK have an annual flexible benefits allowance of £500 and employees in the nine countries to which the scheme is expanding, will be brought into line with this.

The countries involved are Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Serbia, Hungary and Poland.

Joanne Wotton, reward manager at EC Harris, said: “When it comes to reward, there is no reason why every country should not be aligned under the same system.”

Each country will have a flex scheme, however, the exact provision will vary between states depending on tax and labour laws.

In Spain, EC Harris is offering staff childcare vouchers, luncheon vouchers, private medical insurance, dental insurance and computer vouchers.

However, in Hungary it is offering nine flex options, which is the highest number of benefits available for staff in a European country outside the UK. This due to the advantageous tax treatment of perks.

Wotton said: “The hardest countries to introduce schemes in were Italy, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic because they have no tax efficiencies associated with providing flexible benefits.”

EC Harris has provided European employees with paper TRS since July, but this is the first time that they will be available online. The firm communicated online reward statements to its UK staff earlier this year.

Wotton said: “It’s too early to assess how high the take up of the flexible benefits will be, but I’m feeling good about the whole thing and it is being received very positively.”

The company has plans to offer flex to staff in the Middle East and Asia in the long term.

In the UK. more than 80% of EC Harris employees take part in its flex scheme which offers eye care plans, critical illness cover, personal accident insurance, retail vouchers and bikes for work.

Wotton hopes that the firm will be able to roll out more flex options into Europe in the future. “As the tax law in each country changes, we will add more benefits,” she said.