68% favour initial tax relief on pensions

Steve Herbert

More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents are in favour of retaining some level of initial tax relief for pension contributions, according to research by Jelf Employee Benefits.

The 2015/16 Jelf Employee Benefits survey found that, from an employer perspective, 27% of respondents do not want to see any change to the current tax system for pensions.

The survey also found that:

  • Less than a quarter (24%) would like an individual savings account (Isa)-style tax system for pensions.
  • 29% are in favour of one level of tax relief for all savers.
  • 40% of respondents would like a minimum of two years to adapt their pensions approach and run employee communication initiatives ahead of any changes to pensions tax relief.
  • Around a third (36%) would like at least 12 months to adjust and prepare for any changes that may arise from the government’s consultation into pensions tax relief, while 12% say the ideal period of time would be a minimum of three years.

Steve Herbert (pictured), head of benefits strategy at Jelf Employee Benefits, said: “Employers have had pension duties forced upon them by successive governments, so it is only right that their voice should be heard on this really important issue. And the message is clear; employers want to retain some form of initial tax relief to encourage pension savings by their employees.

“The employers we questioned have been under increasing and unrealistic time pressures with regard to recent changes to pension legislation, so it’s to be hoped that governments listen to this call for adequate planning and implementation time should any major changes arise from this consultation.”

Financial education

The research also found:

  • 91% of respondents do not believe staff are fully aware of the financial implications of changes to benefits, such as childcare support and pensions.
  • 93% think changes to benefits necessitate the provision of financial education in the workplace.
  • Just over a third (35%) do not provide employees any assistance with financial education.
  • 37% of respondents offer financial education support on a case-by-case basis.

Jo Thresher, head of money at work at Jelf Employee Benefits, said: “Money worries are severely detrimental to a person’s wellbeing and can permeate every area of their life, including, of course, their work.

“Productivity can be much lower for people with money worries, so it makes economic sense for employers to offer assistance where they can.”

Engagement with Fit for Work

Absence management is also a key issue among respondents.

  • 27% of respondents signpost employees that are absent from work towards Fit for Work where GPs have not provided a referral to the service. A further 42% do so on a case-by-case basis.
  • 22% of respondents would use their bespoke occupational health scheme for such referrals.
  • Almost half (45%) of respondents plan to communicate the Fit for Work service to staff over the next 12 months.

Herbert added: “Our figures suggest that many more absent employees will now benefit from an assessment by an occupational health professional either via Fit for Work, or a more bespoke employer-sponsored occupational health arrangement. This can only be a good thing for all concerned.”