Maternity and paternity pay – Most employers improve on statutory but sectors vary in their generosity

A majority of UK firms (70%) improve on statutory maternity pay of £145.18pw, according to IDR’s survey of maternity and paternity provisions. The most generous occupational maternity pay policies are on offer within the manufacturing and primary sector. Among the 53% of employers in this sector that offer enhanced maternity pay, mothers are typically eligible for around 19 weeks’ full pay. The lowest-value enhanced maternity pay policies are found within private services, where they are worth around 12 weeks’ full pay.

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Pay reviews – Median remains at 2.5%

For the sixth consecutive month, the median pay award across the whole economy stands at 2.5%, with the private sector median also holding steady at 2.5% in the three months to the end of June 2018. The median continues to be influenced by a number of higher awards at or above 4% which together account for a tenth of all rises in the sample.
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Explaining the variation in gender pay gap figures

Around 10,000 firms have published their gender pay gap figures in line with the government’s deadline and there have been numerous headlines about those with the highest gaps. But what does the data really tell us? Here, we look at how and why the figures vary, with an emphasis on sectoral variations, as well as the impact that collective bargaining appears to have on the size of gender pay gaps.

Employers’ publication of their gender pay gaps has sparked a national conversation about the relationship between gender and pay. To date 10,249 firms have published their figures. IDR analysis of these shows an average gap of 14.4% between the average pay for men and that for women. There are, however, significant differences by sector.

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Pay reviews – May remains at 2.5%

The median pay award across the whole economy remains at 2.5%, according to our latest analysis. This is the fifth consecutive month in which the median increase has been at this level. Higher awards, i.e. those at or above 3%, continue to account for almost a third of pay outcomes. The latest median, for the three months to May 2018, is influenced by several pay awards of over 4%, for instance at Argos and Centre Parcs, as well as by lower awards in some areas of the economy. Comparatively few increases are below 2% though we have recorded five pay freezes this time.

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Pay reviews – More deals at 3% or above

The proportion of pay awards at or above 3% has increased, according to the latest analysis from IDR, with these awards accounting for over a third of all settlements monitored in the three months to the end of April 2018. This compares to just under a quarter of awards recorded at this level in the three months to the end of January. The median pay increase across the economy remains at 2.5%. This is the same increase recorded in the last five three-month rolling periods. The interquartile range, where half of awards are set, has widened slightly to between 2% and 3%. The latest figures are based on 96 pay awards, covering over 1.5 million employees.

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RPI inflation rate looks likely to remain above 3% mark

Our panel of City economists considers that while inflation is unlikely to rise in the short term, it is likely to remain at or above 3% over the coming 18 months. The prospects for inflation are probably best summarised in the Bank of England’s recent Inflation Report, released on 10 May. It said: ‘Conditional on market interest rates, domestic inflationary pressures are projected to build over the forecast period while the contribution from energy and import prices dissipates.’

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Saga maintains DB pension scheme

Saga has made changes to its defined-benefit pension scheme to contain costs and tackle the scheme’s deficit while keeping it open to both existing and new members for the long term. The company has also improved the terms of its group personal pension. These changes have been informed by the company’s strategy of helping customers and employees lead better lives in retirement. At the same time, the company has facilitated access to other financial products to support staff in managing savings priorities and is helping staff to make more informed decisions when it comes to saving for the future.

THE NEED FOR CHANGE
Saga is a provider of holidays, financial products and care services aimed at the over-50s. The company, which has more than 4,000 staff in the UK, has long offered a defined-benefit (DB) scheme, the Saga Pension Scheme (SPS), to all its permanent employees and just under half (48%) of the workforce are members. It applies its strategy, of helping people to ‘lead better lives in retirement’, to its employees as well as its customers and regards its pension provision as integral to this. The company also considers a DB pension scheme to be an attractive proposition in recruiting and retaining staff when many other companies are closing theirs.

However, in the two years from January 2014 to January 2016 the actuarial valuation of the DB scheme deficit – the gap between the value of investments and what it has to pay out in current and future benefits – had increased from £15.6 million to a forecast £50 million, while the total cost of future benefits had risen from 18.6% to over 30% of pensionable salaries. Saga therefore had to consider whether it could afford to keep the defined benefit scheme open.

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Pay reviews – Broader picture of pay awards emerges

The median pay increase across the economy remains at 2.5% in the three months to the end of April 2018, according to the latest monitored figures from IDR. The proportion of higher awards at or above 3% has increased with these awards accounting for almost a third of all the awards monitored in this period. This compares to just under a quarter of awards recorded at this level in our look at the figures in the three months to the end of January.

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Pay reviews – March remains at 2.5%

For the third consecutive month the median pay award across the whole economy remains at 2.5%, according to our latest analysis. This trend, monitored for the three months to the end of March 2018, is also evident in the private sector with the median remaining at 2.5%. A consistent median of 2.0% has also been seen within the not-for-profit sector.
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