April is a good month to review your employee benefits. Particularly during the Covid-19 crisis.
Now more than ever, employees need to feel supported. Most organisations will undoubtedly have employee benefits in place so now is a great time to make the most of them.
However, it is also a good time to dust off your policy documents, double check the details with your providers or maybe even proactively consider flexing the rules. Whilst there is no right or wrong answer, here are a few things you could consider:
Familiarise yourself with policies such as Private Medical Insurance and Death in Service and if necessary, contact the provider to confirm any exclusions that may cause issues at this time.
It may also be worth checking whether any additional benefits are offered on your policy that could be helpful such as Employee Assistance Programmes, Virtual GPs or online support.
Employee Assistance Programmes
Now is the perfect time to re-communicate the services available so that employees have a route to take if they feel they need additional support.
If you don’t have an EAP in place, this could be an ideal time to consider implementation.
Flexible Benefit selections
If you operate a flexible benefits window it may be worth considering delaying it until things have settled down and employees are able to make more informed choices.
If your selection window was completed recently, talk to your benefit providers to understand if flexibility can be given on selections made pre Coronavirus. Especially those that include buying additional holiday, purchasing Gym Membership or TasteCards. Providers may agree to put the benefit on hold or even allow a de-selection for review at a later date.
If you operate benefits internally, you will have more flexibility over the rules but it is important to think about how you’ll manage this process, including taxable benefits, once things go back to normal so try not to make any snap decisions.
Employees who are able to work from home will still need time to switch off and refresh. If they have annual leave booked, and there is capacity to allow this to continue, consider encouraging them to take the leave. They may not be able to travel, but having some downtime may do them the world of good.
Pensions will have taken a hit as the market has reacted to Coronavirus. Unfortunately there may not be much you can do to help those who are nearing retirement or members of a DC pension however you may consider allowing additional voluntary contributions and possibly increasing the employer contributions for those who choose this option.
If you have a final salary pension, it may be necessary to plan for additional company funding to cover the shortfall.
Unfortunately all options will be a cost so if this isn’t feasible, don’t forget the value of providing independent financial advice.
Right now, financial advice could be a huge help to your employees so help them access an independent financial advisor by signposting them to your EAP or a directory such as unbiased.co.uk. You may be able to consider funding the initial meeting for them.
If you offer benefits such as flexible payrolling or loans through a third party provider, consider how to manage this period where requests will likely increase.
Finally, employees will be concerned and will have questions. If you do nothing else, talk to them about the impact on their benefits so that they know what to expect.
April 2020 [email protected]