Salary Swap

Confusion still reigns about the company’s new “Salary Swap” scheme – not helped by the puzzling entries that have appeared on many pay slips this month.
HR say they see the introduction as a great success, because only about 10% of people navigated the incomprehensible processes and opted-out. In the real world many employees (whether they opted out or not) are deeply unhappy about aspects of the scheme and its rushed and poorly communicated introduction. Employee representatives from UNITE, PCS and the UKCF have been united in raising these concerns. There’s no doubt that the enormous volume of queries and complaints from employees have helped persuade the company to set up a review of the scheme prior to the summer election period.
Our Manchester group sent the following letter to the company recently:

From: Allinson Ian
Sent: 26 February 2008 10:28
To: Dalley Alison
Cc: Upton Larry; PCS reps, UKCF reps
Subject: UNITE: Salary Swap & Your Choices
Alison,
I’m writing on behalf of the UNITE group in Manchester in relation to the changes this year to Your Choices and Salary Swap.
As you know, UNITE is not opposed to Salary Sacrifice (or Salary Swap) schemes in principle, but we do believe that care is required in relation to the specifics of such schemes. We made clear from the outset that we wanted to be in a position to endorse the proposed scheme and help allay any employee concerns.
We had given you detailed feedback on the information provided to us about the proposed scheme, but only became aware of some of the concerns as implementation got underway in January. When we raised concerns with you, you explained that it was “too late to make any changes at this point” so reps were left with no alternative but to advise employees on the basis of the information available about the scheme as it was.
The first phase of implementation is now over, and we understand that the company is holding a review, which we welcome.
We believe that implementation could have been much smoother and employees much happier with the outcome if it had been less rushed, there had been more consultation and better communication. Many employees feel confused and worried, irrespective of whether they chose to opt out of the pension and/or non-pension aspects of Salary Swap.
We would like to work with you (and maybe other employee representatives such as UKCF and PCS) to ensure that the concerns are addressed prior to the summer election period. I have copied some of the key people from UKCF and PCS on this note so that they can consider this approach.
We think the main areas are:

  • Impact on flexibility of AVC contributions etc, including when leaving the company
  • Changes to pension rules
  • Wording of “declaration” when altering choices
  • Withdrawal of all Your Choices unless you join Salary Swap
  • Withdrawal of facility to decline unwanted medical benefit unless you join Salary Swap
  • What happens if scheme changes in the future
  • Communication plan before summer election period
  • Provision of Independent Financial Advice

Please let us know how you would like to proceed with this so that we can make the scheme an unqualified success.
Ian Allinson
UNITE senior rep, Fujitsu Manchester

A number have members who had previously declined medical benefit to which they were contractually entitled have been in touch.
The company have unilaterally withdrawn the facility to decline medical benefit unless the individual agrees to join Salary Swap. This means the company insisting on handing over its money to private medical providers to pay for a service the employee doesn’t want. Not only is this costing Fujitsu money for nothing, but the company is then deducting tax from the employee on the unwanted benefit.
If Fujitsu wants to give away its money, wouldn’t it be better to give it to the NHS than private medical providers? That might do the company more favours when bidding for NHS work.
Fujitsu makes a big play about giving employees choice, yet they are removing choice from people who have moral or financial reasons to decline private medical cover.
It is possible that the unilateral removal of the facility from employees is a breach of contract. As an example, someone on about £30K per year declining single medical cover is losing about £10 per month.
Members affected by this should contact UNITE for an example grievance letter which they can adapt and submit. Please make sure you do adapt it before submitting it – your UNITE Rep can help you with this.

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Unite members across Fujitsu Services Limited in the UK have been taking industrial as part of their dispute over jobs, union recognition, pay and pensions. Action from 28 February has included 15 days of strikes and ongoing action short of strike.

INDUSTRIAL ACTION IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED but members have voted by 92% to reject a company offer and renewed campaign plans are being made.

The national dispute follows the resolution of a local dispute in Manchester which included 12 strike days.

Further information is available here including events, pickets, a downloadable appeal for support leaflet and how to donate to our strike fund.

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