Employer pension contributions vary by sector

Financial services employers are the most generous when it comes to contributing to employees’ defined contribution (DC) pension pot, while those in the leisure/travel industry are the least generous, according to research by Aon Consulting.

The 2009 Aon Benefits and Trends Survey, which polled 650 organisations across 13 sectors in the UK about their DC pension schemes, found that the more generous employers in the financial services, voluntary/charity and pharmaceuticals/healthcare sectors contribute nearly twice as much as their travel and leisure counterparts.

Average employer contributions across the UK are currently 6.2% of an employee’s salary. Staff working in the travel and leisure, retail, media, professional services, telecommunications and the technology and oil/gas/metal sectors are all receiving below average employer contributions.

Meanwhile, average employee contributions in the UK are currently 3.5% of salary. The survey found staff in the voluntary/charity and financial services sectors contribute the least to their pot giving 2.4% and 2.6% respectively. This compares to employees with less open-handed employers (in retail and travel) who compensate accordingly and give around 4%.

Key findings:

Average total contribution across UK sectors is 9.7%.

Those in financial services fare best with a combined pension pot of 11% (a 8.4% employer contribution but only 2.6% employee).

Those in leisure and travel are worst off with a combined pension pot of 7% (a 4.1% employer contribution and 2.9% employee).

Employers across all sectors contribute at least 4%.

The retail sector displays the least disparity between employer and employee contributions. 4.3% and 4% respectively.

Employees and employers in the consumer goods sector both contribute relatively generously creating a combined pot of 12% (6% employer and 6% employee).

Helen Dowsey, principal at Aon Consulting said: “There is still wide disparity between employer and employee contributions across all UK sectors, probably because employers benchmark their DC schemes against their competitors. Employers may also reward their employees in different ways, with the pension forming a small part of the overall benefits package.

“Using the average 9.7% total contribution as a benchmark, employees who receive only a small contribution from their employer should counter this and give a little more. Many DC scheme offer a matching structure where the more the employee pays, the more the employer will contribute. It is therefore also possible employees, by limiting their own contributions, are missing out on additional pension contributions from their employer.

“It is highly likely many employers will re-design their contribution structure between now and 2012; employees should therefore also be aware that any re-design may mean they need to pay more into their DC scheme.”

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