Voluntary benefits have changed rapidly over the past 15 years, as benefits that employees would have traditionally bought for themselves are now readily available through their workplaces. Kimberley Dondo reports

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There has been a change in what is included in workplace benefits, and also how they are offered.

The traditional offerings may still be there, but the real growth has been in a different type of proposition – the voluntary benefit. These fall into two broad categories – extra benefits in a package that the employee may contribute towards, and a discount set-up where the individual receives some form of reward as a result of making a purchase.

The huge advantages of this type of benefit is that it offers massive choice for the staff member at a minimal cost to their employer.

We are rounding up what’s on the market in our six-part A – Z…

ANNUAL LEAVE TRADING

Annual leave trading allows employees to purchase more days or sell unwanted holiday time. It’s a fantastic scheme to offer where employers want to give employees a good work-life balance, and it’s great for morale, retention and recruitment. “Purchase-only schemes can also generate substantial financial savings for employers and, as it’s a salary sacrifice scheme, the employee can also save some tax and National Insurance on any annual leave they purchase as well,” says Julian Foster, managing director at Computershare Salary Extras.

BIKES

The cycle-to-work scheme allows employees to choose a bike, hire it for a certain amount of time and buy it for a fraction of the price. Since it a full salary-sacrifice scheme, employees can either save 32% or 42% on the cost of a bike and the necessary equipment. It is available in more than 2,000 retailers nationwide all year with interest-free credit.

CARS

As motoring costs soar, an HMRC-approved car salary sacrifice scheme can be an affordable way for staff to have a new car. By choosing low or zero emission vehicles, employees can take advantage of the tax relief and get behind the wheel with affordable monthly repayments. Plus, the employee usually gets all their running costs included in the monthly repayment – insurance, servicing, road tax, replacement tyres, maintenance, breakdown cover.

DISCOUNTS AND OFFERS

This voluntary benefit covers a vast array of discount-related vouchers, such as high street shopping, travel and restaurants. This type of benefit especially suits a diverse workforce and as long as the discounts are relevant, accessible and well-advertised, discounts can generate large savings.