The last 12 months saw a significant growth in our benefits business as we continued to connect businesses, many for the first time, to a range of benefit solutions to support their recruitment and retention of staff.
This trend is set to continue in 2023, despite the doom and gloom created by politicians, as companies are seeing the advantages of having a good benefits programme in place and are showing increased confidence in expanding the range of benefits that they provide.
In response to the impact of Covid, we expanded our range of health and wellbeing benefits to help address the strains caused by remote working and long-Covid. Our employee assistance programmes along with occupational health services had high usage levels as employers supported their staff across all levels allowing them to talk about anxiety and related health issues. Protecting employees with health insurances and financial protection in case of ill health has accelerated especially at a time when the NHS is struggling to meet the demands being put on it. It has been great to see the demand for PMI, cashplans and health and wellbeing advice grow.
Solutions that don’t stand still
During the year we expanded our benefits consultancy team to ensure that we could meet the increase in demand for benefit consultancy advice. Our new website is now up and running to make sure that we remain fresh and modern to all our customers and our Smart Hive and rewards platform are delivering real value when compared to alternative providers.
Our mission at Bravo Benefits is to make the provision of benefits in the workplace easier and more affordable for all businesses.
As we start 2023, we are finding that electric bikes continue to be a popular purchase through our cycle to work scheme – as they are speedy, eco-friendly and make getting around easier and cost effective at a time of high energy prices at the pumps. Remember that they come in different ranges such as electric mountain bikes and electric hybrid bikes.
Why are workplace benefits so important?
The last ten years has seen a significant and unprecedented transfer of social and health provision from Government to business.
Changes by the Government such as the abolition of the Statutory Sick Pay Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS), which allowed employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay, the closure of final salary pension schemes and switch to money purchase pensions, the removal of widow’s death in service benefits, the introduction of pension freedoms plus failure to reform social care, increases in state retirement age, together with reductions in welfare state provision mean that the responsibility to protect individuals and their families health and wellbeing has fallen on both the employer and the employee.
The real issue now for employees is where do they get support if they have health issues or have caring responsibilities for young or older family members? What happens if a bereaved parent with dependent children is not able to access childcare and/ or gain employment that provides a sufficient income? What happens if a person due to their work and/or family support needs cannot afford to move to and rent in a different neighbourhood which is deemed less expensive? Without sufficient support they will drop out of the labour market.
TUC research released in March 2021 highlighted that due to health events, disability, and accident, one in eight people are likely to exit the world of work pre their state pension age. And the Just Group PLC recently shared that circa 51% of unplanned early retirements were due to unexpected health events where people to provide care. Its key we appreciate that loss of income are the leading reason people get into problem debt and according to StepChange the debt charity, fourteen million people in Britain have experienced at least one income shock within a 12-month period; with 4.5 million people having experienced two or more.
The impact of this is that we will have fewer workers available in the UK labour with employers already struggling to fill 1.3 million UK vacancies. Whilst there is talk of a recession and a contraction of the economy many businesses are struggling to meet the demand for goods and services post the pandemic period. That is why employers have been talking to us about their total reward and benefit packages. On the back of this we confidently predict that there will be an on-going demand for appropriate benefit programmes that include financial protection, cost of living support through retail discounts, health and wellbeing support and the introduction of more employee recognition tools.
Account Management Support at Bravo Benefits
Our benefit consultants and client success managers offer expert and friendly advice to deliver the appropriate benefits for your business and employee needs. We have genuine, approachable and knowledge people helping you from first contact to on-going support to make sure that the benefits you choose remain relevant and meet the needs of your business in an ever-changing business landscape. Our business driver is to help businesses thrive.
Cost of Living Support - Retail Discounts
During 2023 there will be an on-going need to support employees through the ongoing increases to the cost of living. Our Reward and Recognition platform will continue to focus on retail discounts and providing innovative ways of providing financial wellbeing support.
The platform can be used as a strong engagement tool to recognise and reward employees’ contributions to the business. Saying a thank for hard work often goes a long way in lieu of a pay increase.
People Management – EAP’s Helping Businesses Thrive
The last two years have seen a large uptake in Employee Assistance Programmes by employers and their subsequent use by employees and line managers. The pressures initially created by the Pandemic and now further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis have seen more employees make use of the on-line services around wellbeing and managing anxiety/stress, understanding finances better, sleep and relationship management. Employees have been using the on-line tools such as fact sheets, video’s as well as the counselling services.
Investment in EAP’s translates into positive returns in terms of business cost savings from reduced sickness absence and reduced insurance claims. More managers are making use of the referrals support to help them better manage staff issues. EAP’s not only help to manage problems but they can also be used to head off issues that are arising in the workplace.
Update on Key Employment Law changes in 2023
To help you prepare for 2023, we outline below the forthcoming changes to employment law.
Annual rate increases for 2023/2024
The national minimum wage and national living wage will increase on 1 April 2023 as follows: -
∙ National Living Wage for those aged twenty-three and over - £10.42 (previously £9.50)
∙ 21–22-year-old rate - £10.18 (previously £9.18)
∙ 18–20-year-old rate - £7.49 (previously £6.83)
∙ 16–17-year-old rate - £5.28 (previously £4.81)
∙ Apprentice rate - £5.28 (previously £4.81)
Family friendly payments
Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay will increase to £172.48 per week (previously £156.66) in April 2023.
Statutory sick pay
The rate of statutory sick pay will increase to £109.40 per week (previously £99.35) in April 2023.
During 2023, the law on flexible working will be updated.
- An employee will have the right to request flexible working on day one of their employment. Currently, the right to request flexible working is only available to an employee after 26 weeks’ continuous service.
- An employee will be allowed to make two requests for flexible working within a 12-month period. Currently, an employee can only make one request for flexible working in a 12-month period.
- Employers will have two months to respond to a flexible working request (including the appeal), instead of three months they have now.
- Employers will be required to discuss alternatives to the employee’s request if the request cannot be granted, to discuss alternative options of flexible working that may be available. It is unclear whether this will be a legal duty or guidance.
- The flexible working procedure will be simplified so employees no longer need to set out how the effects of their request for flexible working might impact the employer.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill will automatically repeal any retained EU law so that it expires on 31 December 2023. There is scope to retain EU law if specific legislation is passed to allow that to happen and scope for the government to extend the repeal date until June 2026. It is yet unclear what will unfold and what the consequences of the Bill will be. It does mean waving goodbye to TUPE the Working Time Regulations, the Agency Worker Regulations and protection against discrimination for part-time workers and fixed-term employees, creating an uncertain outlook for key worker rights in 2023.