UK - Engineering consultant WS Atkins is set to increase employer and employee contributions to its pension scheme, an internal staff memo leaked to IPN's sister publication Professional Pensions reveals.
The increases are needed to plug a £65m deficit under FRS17 reporting standard in the £378m WS Atkins Staff Retirement Benefits Plan.
Employee contribution increases will vary according to when they became members. Contributions for employees who joined the scheme prior to March 1997 will rise three percentage points to 6%.
Staff who joined the scheme after March 1997 will see contributions rise one percentage point, also to 6%.
Contributions for all members will increase another two and a half percentage points to 8.5% from April 2005.
Employer contributions will increase by £3.5m per annum from next month.
One scheme member told PP: “This a disgrace. It is interesting that the company was until recently on a contribution holiday. Should a valuation ever reveal a surplus will member contributions come down?”
The leaked memo states: “Having considered a number of options, the company and trustees have concluded that the most appropriate action is to increase the contributions made to the plan by both the company and the members.
“This is in preference to reducing future benefits or, in extremis, closing the scheme to future accrual.”
HR director Alun Griffiths said the engineering consultant was holding briefings later this month to discuss the proposed changes with members and address any major concerns.
He added that the company was prepared to “consider alternative to these increases, provided they achieve the required reduction in the deficit”.
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