I work for a small UK company (approx. 20 staff) which is part of a larger global group. We are a typical small company where HR and legal functions are, I believe, contracted out.

Recently, at a monthly meeting, we were informed that the company had been obliged to make amendments to the pension scheme in order to comply with age discrmimination laws regarding percentage contributions. There appears to be no problem with this.

However, at that time we were also advised that the company had removed a component of the Pension Scheme ‘Death in Service Benefit – Spouse’s Pension’, on account of it “costing the company a lot of money”. Other reasons briefly offered were a)”Not everyone is in in the pension scheme, anyway” and b)”Not everyone is married, anyway”. I understand that the company had been paying premiums into a group life assurance policy for all staff, regardless of membership of the pension scheme or marital status, so this appears to be behind their thinking. The company makes a good profit and bonuses are paid regularly, so it doesn’t appear that the company cannot afford to maintain this benefit, rather it comes over as a ‘penny-pinching’ exercise.

This is clearly a contractual benefit that I and others would want to keep. There was neither a consultation process concerning the removal of this benefit, and nor has its removal been confirmed to staff in writing. It seems that the company is attempting to remove this benefit by stealth, hoping that no one will notice or complain. I cannot help but think that something is seriously wrong and that my company has acted improperly and possibly without regard to employment law as it relates to the removal of such contractual benefits.

I want to protest and seek to get this benefit reinstated. I haven’t discussed the matter yet with other colleagues. I would be very grateful for any advice as to whether my company has acted properly or even within the scope of employment law, and if not, how I should seek to take the matter forward?
Anonymous Northerner

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