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Employers willing to match pension contributions above statutory amounts

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
As pension contributions rise next month, research reveals employers are willing to respond positively if employees want to contribute more.

The auto-enrolment contribution rates for both employees and employers are due to rise in the new April tax year.

Currently, the minimum pension contribution rate is 1% from the employee and 1% from the employer, giving a 2% total contribution. But from 6 April, the contributions will rise to 5%, made up of 3% from the employee and 2% from the employer.

However, a survey by Harris Research for Royal London revealed that employers are willing to respond positively if employees take the initiative with their pensions to contribute more.

The survey of more than 300 employers (between 10 and 250 employees) revealed that 77% said they thought a workplace pension was an important benefit.

Nearly two-thirds said they would be prepared to offer a facility for members to increase their pension contribution rates when pay increases (66%) and nearly as many (62%) said they would be likely to match such an increase.

However, employers thought the main responsibility for boosting workplace saving lay either with the member (35%), the pension provider (30%) or the government (18%). Just a small amount (6%), said the responsibility should like with employers, while 5% said it should fall to advisers.

Steve Webb, director of policy, Royal London, said employers have a crucial part to play in nudging their workforce to save more.

“Most experts agree that the 8% total contribution rate which will be reached in 2019 will not be enough to provide a comfortable retirement for most workers on middle and higher incomes. The willingness of employers to consider ‘automatic escalation’ of contributions to coincide with pay increases is very encouraging.

“This approach has worked well in the US and in some leading UK companies and offers the best prospect of getting contribution rates up to realistic levels.”

Webb said that to continue the success of automatic enrolment, schemes must be reviewed so that employer’s needs and long-term goals are met.

“But it’s not just about the scheme that’s in place; it’s about how its benefits are communicated to employees. Employers, under the guidance of financial advice, must look to send out regular and engaging communications to their staff to actively encourage them to save more,” he added.

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