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Managing Global Benefits: The United Kingdom

Dec 03, 2018 Decorative image: globe

Where in the World Is Hylant?
As the world becomes more interconnected and businesses go global, human resources professionals are tasked to manage employees and benefits around the world. Every country has its own regulations and cultural practices, making this a challenge.

Each month, our “Where in the World” global benefits blog post will introduce you to some of the benefits-related facts and considerations you should be aware of if your employees work in or travel to a country outside the United States.

First up: The United Kingdom.

How Employee Retirement Savings Plans Work in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom (U.K.) introduced statutory workplace pensions (retirement savings) in October 2012. Every employer in the U.K. must “auto enroll” employees in a workplace pension and contribute toward their employees’ pension.United Kingdom fun fact

The original minimum contribution rate was originally set at 5 percent (2 percent employer and 3 percent employee). In 2019, the minimum contribution will increase to 8 percent (3 percent employer and 5 percent employee). This is in addition to the National Insurance (Social Security) contributions that employees make.

The National Health Service
The U.K. has the world’s largest publicly funded health service known as the National Health Service (NHS). The system is complex and provides a wide range of benefits and services. Except for some charges, such as prescriptions, optical and dental services, the NHS remains free at the point of use if a citizen is eligible. The NHS covers everything from routine treatments to emergency treatment to transplants, among other benefits.

U.S. citizens sent to the U.K. to work for a year may be eligible for NHS, depending on what type of documents they have while in the U.K. However, an overseas visitor is typically not an ordinary resident.

Demand for Private Medical Insurance or Supplemental Coverage Is Increasing
Despite the free healthcare, waiting times for outpatient primary care, nonemergency or planned treatment can be rather lengthy in the U.K. For example, waiting times for NHS physiotherapy for musculoskeletal problems vary across the country but can be between 6 and 18 weeks. Similar time periods apply to mental health issues. Because of this, there is increasing demand for private medical insurance or supplemental coverage.

Private medical insurance effectively addresses many of these matters for acute medical conditions and other difficult circumstances by allowing patients to seek care at private medical facilities that will see them right away. Faster treatment time results in employees recovering more quickly and returning to work. This is a driving factor for many employers choosing to have a supplemental benefits plan.

Employees also have a greater choice of practitioners, treatment dates, hospitals and quality of environment. Private dental and optical plans are also growing in popularity, due to the lack of support from NHS.

Maternity Leave
In addition to the above, all pregnant employees have a right to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Maternity leave is defined by two time periods: The first 26 weeks are known as “Ordinary Maternity Leave,” and the last 26 weeks are “Additional Maternity Leave.”

Employees must take at least two weeks of leave after the birth of a child, and four weeks if the employee is a factory worker. The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth unless the baby is born early.

Offering Competitive Benefits
If you want to offer competitive benefits to an employee working in the U.K., do you research first. This is where Hylant can help.

Hylant works with you to gather census information about your group. We then communicate with our Worldwide Broker Network (WBN) partner and strategize on what types of benefits should be offered. This will depend on:

  • Group size
  • Budget
  • Industry
  • Any other preferences

We are then able to go to market and see what types of benefits you could potentially offer in addition to the ones provided by the NHS.

Hylant is able to work with partners in creating a customized solution for you: That’s the benefit of working with Hylant and WBN!

Tanja Lumpp Global Benefits

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