CBI calls for more flexibility in perks

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The Independent Online
COMPANIES should offer more flexible perks, allowing staff to trade in company cars for longer holidays or other benefits, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

The CBI also questioned whether firms should still be paying medical insurance for employees' spouses or families as more staff now come from double-income homes.

A CBI survey on company benefits shows that more than 90 per cent of businesses offer company cars, pensions, life assurance and private medical insurance. Not all of these, however, are offered to every employee. On-site creche and childcare benefits are offered by 4 per cent and 2 per cent of companies respectively, coming bottom of the benefits list along with help on school fees or dental care.

The survey shows that benefits have not kept pace with changes in the workforce. Few firms have changed their programme of perks in recent years but many companies report increasing numbers of female employees and part-time workers. There is also evidence that the age of the workforce is increasing and that the length of service is declining.

Towers Perrins, the management consultants who carried out the survey with the CBI, said flexible benefits would have to be used more to attract and motivate staff. A more liberal approach to working hours was also needed to accommodate family responsibilities and the aspirations of individuals.

While one fifth of the firms surveyed said they offered some sort of benefit flexibility, it was often limited to a small group of executives.