Retention and Benefits

Benefits

For many employees, a good benefits programme is up there with the top reasons why they are attracted to join, and stay with their employer.

Whether it be the case that you offer pensions under auto enrolment, or require a more extensive benefits package, we can assist with guiding you through what is on offer in the market place by putting you in contact with a recognised benefits platform provider, and help you make sure you have the correct policy documentation in place.

Pensions and Auto-enrolment

Since 2012, legislation requires employers to meet pension duties in relation to their workforce.

As an employer, you have new duties in relation to everyone working for you:

  • Who is aged between 16 and 74
  • Who works in the UK
  • For whom you deduct income tax and national insurance contributions from their wages

Your duties depend on the ages and earnings of your staff on your ‘staging date’, which may have passed or still be a few years from now.

Your ‘staging date’ is the date which the law switches on for your company. Staging dates are being staged in over a period of six years, which started with the largest employers in 2012.

Staging dates are based on the size of an employer’s PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012 – the more people in the PAYE scheme at that time, the earlier the staging date. If you use more than one PAYE scheme, your staging date is based on the total number of people in the largest one that you use.

Staging dates are determined based on the latest PAYE scheme information from HMRC as at 1 April 2012.

If you made any changes to your PAYE scheme before this date, they may not be reflected in the data from HMRC.

If you don’t comply, the Pension Regulator will be taking enforcement action. Enforcement action starts with statutory notices and is followed by penalty notices, which may result in court action.

Holiday Entitlements

Under the Working Time Regulations all employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave each year, but an employer may choose to increase the number of days an employee is entitled to. This equates to a minimum of 28 days for a full time employee working 5 days per week.

The 5.6 weeks annual leave includes the usual 8 statutory bank holidays in England and Wales.

Part time workers are entitled to the same annual leave entitlement but on a pro-rata basis.

Employers can determine when employees should take their leave, for example, during the Summer or Christmas shut downs.

An employer can determine their own annual leave year but traditionally many follow the calendar or financial year.

An employee will start to accrue their annual leave entitlement upon commencement of employment and should be paid their normal pay for each annual leave day. This can include elements of overtime and commission payments.

Employees cannot be paid for any accrued, but untaken annual leave, except upon termination of employment. If an employee has not taken all their annual leave during the leave year the employer may allow them to carry forward their leave to the next year.

Parents and Carers 

Maternity and Paternity

Subject to eligibility criteria most employees are entitled to maternity or paternity leave and pay. All employers have a duty to ensure that policies and procedures are compliant with legislative requirements.

The key points which all maternity policies should include are:

  • Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave.
  • Employees may be entitled to 39 weeks statutory maternity pay.
  • Employees may take advantage of up to 10 keep in touch days.

All employees can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave, which is 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave. In order to qualify for maternity pay, an employee should:

  • Have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending at the fifteenth week prior to the Expected Week of Childbirth.
  • Employee’s average weekly earnings are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the Government.
  • Employee provides a MATB1 stating the Expected Week of Childbirth.
  • Employee gives at least 28 days’ notice of their intention to take maternity leave.
  • Employee is still pregnant 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth or have already given birth.

The key points which all paternity policies should include are:

  • Eligible employees can take up to 2 weeks paternity leave.
  • Employees may be entitled to statutory paternity pay.
  • Employees may take advantage of up to 10 keep in touch days.

All employees can take up to 2 weeks paternity leave, which is up to 2 weeks Ordinary Paternity Leave. In order to qualify for paternity pay, an employee should:

  • Have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending at the fifteenth week prior to the Expected Week of Childbirth.
  • Employee’s average weekly earnings are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the Government.

Employees are obliged to give their employer certain information in order to have the right to Statutory Maternity or Paternity Leave and Pay.

Adoption

Subject to eligibility criteria most employees are entitled to adoption leave and pay. All employers have a duty to ensure that policies and procedures are compliant with legislative requirements.

The key points which all policies should include are:

  • Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks adoption leave.
  • To qualify employees must have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.
  • Employees may be entitled to 39 weeks statutory adoption pay.
  • Employees may take advantage of up to 10 keep in touch days.

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks adoption leave, which is 26 weeks Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks Additional Adoption Leave. In order to qualify for adoption leave, an employee should:

  • Be newly matched with a child for adoption by an adoption agency.
  • Have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.

Eligibility to adoption pay and leave is for:

  • Individuals who adopt
  • One member of a couple where a couple adopt jointly (the couple must choose which partner takes adoption leave).

The partner of an individual who adopts, or the other member of a couple who are adopting jointly, may be entitled to paternity or additional paternity leave and pay.

Employees are obliged to give their employer certain information in order to have the right to Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay.

Shared Parental Leave

In addition to statutory maternity, paternity and adoption entitlements, qualifying employees are also entitled to take a period of Shared Parental Leave, which enables eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. This could involve returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.

It is designed to provide greater flexibility to parents in how they share care for the first year following birth or adoption, by providing a pot of leave which can be divided into periods of child care responsibility: both parents may take leave at the same time and/or take it in turns to have time off to care.  To qualify:

  • the mother or adopter must be entitled to maternity or adoption entitlement;
  • have given notice to curtail it;
  • must share the main responsibility for child care with the named partner.
  • The parent must be an employee
  • they must pass the continuity of employment test.
  • the other parent must also meet the employment and earnings test.

Time off for dependants

All employees have the right to time off during working hours for dependants, to deal with emergencies and unforeseen issues. There is no legal right to be paid for this time off; however you may choose to offer a contractual right to pay under the terms and conditions of employment. The right is to a reasonable amount of time off – normally a day or two but this will depend on individual circumstances.

A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child parent, or someone who depends on an employee for care, for example an elderly relative or neighbour.

Flexible Working

Flexible working can lead to increased productivity and employee retention and engagement, with your business being seen as recognising the importance of work/ life balance and responsibilities.

Before June 2014 the right to request to work flexibly only applied to the parents of children under 17 (or 18 in the case of parents of disabled children) or to those caring for an adult.

Now any eligible employee can apply to work flexibly for any reason. They have the right to ask their employer for a change to their contractual terms and conditions of employment, subject to meeting eligibility criteria:

  • have worked for their employer for 26 weeks continuously (at the date the application is made);
  • are limited to one statutory request in any 12 month period.

Employees who have been employed for less than 26 weeks, agency workers and office holders do not have a statutory right to request flexible working. Employers may still wish to consider a request from these groups.

To encourage and manage flexible working requests it is key to instil the right environment; one where employees can feel confident decisions regarding their requests will be handled fairly and objectively. Furthermore, they should be free from concern that they will be treated less favourably as a result of asking for a flexible working arrangement.