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Employee benefits aren't 'keeping pace' with changes in UK workforce

Employee benefits offered by organisations to their staff have not kept pace with huge demographic changes undergone in society and UK workplaces.

Failure to develop benefits to make them more appropriate to the changing composition of the workforce has left UK workers less financially secure than they were 30 years ago, according to a report from the Cass Business School.

Today's workforce is older, has more women and includes more people with disabilities than 30 years ago. There are 12 per cent more women at work than 30 years ago (66 per cent compared with 54 per cent), and twice as many people of state pension age and older in employment, at around 1.4 million people. Disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, let alone 1983, and the gap in the employment rate between disabled and non-disabled people has shrunk by 10 per cent in the last 14 years.

The proportion of employees belonging to 'defined benefit occupational pension schemes' has fallen from 46 per cent to 30 per cent in the last 30 years. Employers who offer occupational sick pay for all or some staff has fallen even further in the same period, from 90 per cent to 48 per cent. The proportion of mothers receiving occupational maternity pay on childbirth has decreased by 10 per cent to 32 percent since 1983.

The report recommended helping staff plan for old age, with better pension contributions, elective private medical insurance, and social care support. Those with disabilities and illnesses could have specialist vocational support, occupational health and wellbeing services, and rehabilitation and be offered group income protection to improve financial security. Opportunities for flexible working would also help those with caring responsibilities, whether for children, older relatives or both.

Organisations with good employee benefits often report better results with staff recruitment and retention, as well as more loyal and engaged employees.

Acas can visit your organisation and help you find the best solutions to issues related to Pay and reward: how Acas can help, including the use of benefits. Acas has also published pdf icon Age and the workplace: a guide for employers and employees [336kb] and Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance , which give detailed advice and information on related legislation. Training is also available on Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010, and Disability discrimination.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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