Serco boosts take-up ahead of auto-enrolment

EXCLUSIVE: Serco Group has increased take-up of its stakeholder pension scheme by communicating auto-enrolment four months ahead of its staging date.

The international services organisation sent letters to its 30,000 UK employees in January 2013. It has since seen a 2% rise in take-up of the scheme, in advance of the firm’s May 2013 staging date.

Between 35% and 40% of UK employees are in the stakeholder pension scheme, which is provided by Legal and General. Employee contributions are currently matched up to an average of 6% from the employer, although the exact levels vary across the orgaisation’s business areas.

Ashleigh Witcher, senior benefits and pensions administrator at Serco, said: A lot of people have said, ‘I’m going to be auto-enrolled in May, but what if I want to collect the 6% I’m owed now?’

 “In the first six weeks, we must have sent out 152 [pension information packs] at least. We’ve run out of pension packs.”

Serco Group also held focus groups with employees and cascaded pensions information down to all managers. As it approaches its staging date, it will send out more information via payslips, email alerts, posters and communications groups. Witcher added: “We want to make sure we get hold of people in different ways. As you can imagine, with 30,000 employees, it’s quite hard.”

The organisation has also worked with its payroll administrator, Northgate, to ensure its system is ready for auto-enrolment.“Even though pensions sit under the pensions department, it is ultimately payroll’s responsibility to make sure the elements are set up correctly and it does what it says on the tin,” said Witcher. “We have a lot of processes we are going to have to go through in June to make sure everything has gone smoothly and everyone has been captured.”

Serco Group has a wide range of payrolls, including staff who are weekly-paid, two-weekly paid, four-weekly paid and monthly paid.

“We have already put a set element against everybody’s payroll number to make sure it reads if they already got a pension,” said Witcher. “It is really making sure the two elements are working together, making sure the auto-enrolment element quickly recognises whether that person has got a pension on 1 May or not, and that’s when we will be looking to see if anyone has been missed out at all.”