Hitachi Data Systems switches to GPP and launches flexible benefits

Hitachi Data Systems has switched from a trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension plan to a group personal pension (GPP) and launched a flexible benefits scheme.

The IT firm also plans to launch total reward statements in January 2012, rolling them out in the UK, the US and one Asia-Pacific country.

Carol Baylis, the firm’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) total rewards director, said: “We did an employee survey in April and the main thing that came out was a low understanding of the value of benefits. If people do not understand what they have, you could say it is a waste of money.”

Hitachi closed its trust-based DC scheme to future contributions in favour of a GPP for its 350 UK staff. Take-up has since increased from 72% to 85%.

Staff can make contributions to the GPP via salary sacrifice. Hitachi will share its employer national insurance savings with staff.

Hitachi has also launched its first flexible benefits plan, BenefitsDirect, in conjunction with JLT Online Benefits. Staff can purchase additional annual leave, top up life insurance and long-term disability cover, or reduce these
benefits and take the cash.

Some 97% of staff logged on to the flex system, with 35% choosing to buy extra perks. Baylis said: “People sound very positive, but take-up was a little bit disappointing. In hindsight, we probably should not have done it straight after the pension changes.”

Carol Baylis will speak about managing benefits in the light of auto-enrolment at Employee Benefits Live on 28 September

Read more about group personal pension schemes