Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

A casual acquaintance or a rude awakening?

You know nothing ever seems to stay still in the world of pensions and benefits. As unbelievable as that may sound it’s not such a sleepy backwater anymore. The pace of change has really hotted up over the last ten years or so. We are seeing more and more case law and litigation which contests and re-defines large chunks of the status quo.

Not only is there UK legislation to think about but we also have the input from European Legislation on top.  As if that wasn’t enough the plethora of Ombudsmen (I have no idea what the plural of Ombudsman is!) that we have in financial services and pensions also have their say.  It’s for that reason that the old fashioned role of the “pension adviser” has had to change.

The Role of the Adviser

Historically for most smaller employers the adviser would “look after the pension scheme” which basically meant providing a basic level of admin support to the employer and signing up new joiners and dealing with leavers and retirements. If you were lucky they also looked after your group risk benefits and, even rarer still, your private medical care. That model gives you the employer no protection whatsoever. No one has the job of keeping the employer on the straight and narrow and making sure that you comply with all of the legislation and regulatory changes.

I’m glad to say that things are changing and there are a growing breed of advisers, like 44 Financial, who see their role as part of the team of business advisers who keep the employer on track. The old aspects of admin and basic advice and information for members are normally still in there as part of the service. It’s really that the principal role of the adviser has been redefined – and for the better.

The Daily Telegraph Case

What, you might ask, has this got to do with me? A recent article in Employee Benefits magazine highlighted the growing number of workplace disagreements. You can read the full article here. The interesting part for me was the Case Study that explained the judgement against the Daily Telegraph in the case of acworker who had been termed a “casual”. You can read the Case Study here.

Most (but by no means all!) of the benefit eligibility criteria that exist today have been amended to take out any discrimination on the grounds of age, gender or part-time employment. Your employees on fixed term contracts have also been accommodated after the UK introduced rehulations to comply with the European Directive.  Chapter and verse on the regulations is here. However, the vast majority of employers that we have worked with still exclude employees who work on a “casual” basis. Admittedly it doesn’t affect every employer but you’d be surprised when you speak to employers how many temporary employees they have from time to time. If you have employees like this are they excluded from your benefits package if they don’t come under the Fixed Term Regulations?

This initial Employment Tribunal judgement in the Telegraph case ruled that the employee was entitled to the full package of benefits. It has now taken a further judgement from the Pensions Ombudsman to rule that access to the Pension Scheme should have been granted.

I can only guess that as time goes on and employees become more aware of the benefits provided and their entitlements that this type of case will increase.

Where do we go from here?

We’ll be talking to our clients about the use of temporary or infrequent employees to gain some idea of how widespread the issue is. It’s likely that we will recommend that some clients take advice from their employment law advisers.

It’s almost definite that we’ll recommend that changes are made in the long run to the eligibility criteria for various benefits.

That’s what we’ll be doing for our clients. What is your adviser doing for you? We’re currently offering, at our expense, an initial consultation for our Your Benefits Roadmap programme to the first 20 employers who subscribe. If you want to find out more and how this could not only save you money but keep you on the straight and narrow please contact us at