NAPF: John Lewis Partnership’s head of pensions, Dinesh Visavadia, has slammed the inflexibility of auto-enrolment legislation because of its disconnect with the organisation’s business strategy.
Speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds’ (NAPF) annual conference in Liverpool on 19 October, he said: “It is the wrong kind of legislation for us.”
Visavadia also said The Pensions Regulator’s focus is short-term, which is one of a number of the organisation’s barriers to auto-enrolment. Others include the administrative burden of calculating employees’ pension contributions, particularly for employees who only work for the organisation for a short period of time.
Visavadia explained that John Lewis Partnership is required, under a self-imposed constitution, to provide for the retirement needs of employees who have spent all, or most of, their working lives with the organisation.
Access to a non-contributory defined benefit (DB) scheme is offered to employees after three years’ service.
“We prefer to focus our pensions spend on longer serving partners,” he said. “We have a long-term financial commitment, but regulatory pressures potentially impose short-term cash demands.”
He adds: “Provided we meet the minimum qualifications for auto-enrolment, why can’t we be free to provide pensions in the shape we want?”
Visavadia’s pensions regime wish list includes:
- a predictable and sustainable benefit that’s affordable in a wide range of economic scenarios.
- the right balance between investment in the business and profit to employees through bonuses and pensions.
- the highest level of pensions, focused on longer serving and lower paid employees.