Pension confusion spirals

21 May 2004
Employees and pension scheme members are suffering from unparalleled levels of confusion over pensions, says a new report.

"Managing pensions change" - the latest best practice guide from The Work Foundation claims: "Occupational pensions are subject to myriad influences and pressures, many external, which means employers and employees have very little control."

Nick Isles, associate director, The Work Foundation goes on to say: "This situation is made worse as employers face constraints with regard to giving members advice and new accounting standards that have created confusion."

The guide says that the sheer volume of change is not only hard to track in itself, but also requires significant employer resource to communicate to all the affected scheme members, especially as most prefer face-to-face meetings that allow them to ask questions.

Adverse publicity about pension schemes and insurance companies has led to a much greater awareness about pension matters among the general public.

Pension scheme members are asking more questions of trustees and employers, and demanding clear answers. A consequence of this is that companies have to work harder to satisfy the needs of their employees.

Occupational pension schemes are long-term commitments by employers for employees. A good scheme will significantly add to payroll costs, but employers will often derive substantial benefits from operating one, such as, recruitment and retention.

Nonetheless, the pressures that many schemes face at present have lead to an almost unprecedented period of re-examination and change.