Survey reveals higher commitment

Small firms ready to pay higher pensions to retain staff

pension pot 2More than twice as many companies are planning to pay above the minimum required into workplace pension schemes than a year ago, according to new research.

Now:Pensions has found that 30% of employers will contribute more than the legislative  base figure when they enrol their employees into a pension under the auto-enrolment programme.

This compares to just 17% of SMEs surveyed a year ago. The survey was undertaken before the Chancellor’s recent cut to employers’ national insurance costs.

Of those planning to pay more, 17% say they plan to pay more than the minimum from the outset with a further 13% stating that they will pay the minimum initially, with a view to increasing contributions over time.

This is an improvement on 2014 when 8% of SMEs surveyed said they intended to pay more than the minimum with a further 9% stating they will pay the minimum initially with a view to increasing contributions over time.

Employers see a good pension as important to retaining staff

More than half (57%) believe it will help with  recruitment and retention of employees. Half (51%) hope that by contributing more, their employees will be encouraged to do the same.

Over a third (39%) think the minimum contribution has been set too low for a comfortable retirement. Nearly a quarter (24%) say they don’t offer any other benefits so are happy to spend more on providing a more generous pension, while an equal proportion believe it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure employees have a healthy pension pot that will provide them with a comfortable retirement.

Of all the companies surveyed, 43% say they think offering a good quality pension helps with employee retention while a third (34%) think it helps to improve the attractiveness of the company to potential employees.

Morten Nilsson, chief executive of NOW: Pensions, an independent, multi-employer trust, said: “The perception is that large firms offer more generous pensions than small companies but, this isn’t necessarily true. Many small employers want to offer their staff a benefit they’ll genuinely value and are willing to put their hand in their pocket to do so.”

Compliance important

Of the 44% of firms that plan to make minimum contributions, over a third (36%) say it is because their focus is on ensuring compliance. While a similar percentage (32%) claim they want to keep things simple and think paying more would complicate matters, while nearly a quarter (24%) say keeping costs low is a priority. An honest 16% say they don’t really want to offer a pension at all so plan to keep costs as low as possible.

Mr Nilsson adds: “There’s a danger that, because the government has set the contribution level, employers will assume that auto enrolment minimum contributions are sufficient to provide a comfortable retirement for their workforce.

“The reality is that even when auto enrolment is fully rolled out, a combined pension contribution of 8% still isn’t going to be enough for most people. If employers contribute even a small amount more than they are obliged to do, this can make a big difference to employees’ final pension pots.”


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