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Annie Hayes



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Company of the week: Mills & Reeve


Annie Hayes spoke to Sandy Boyle, Mills & Reeve’s HR Director about why flex is best.

*Benefits stats*
Benefits offered:

  • Pension – group stakeholder plan.

  • Permanent health insurance.

  • Life assurance.

  • Private medical assurance.

  • Holidays – 25 days plus an extra day at Christmas.

  • Enhanced maternity/paternity leave.

  • Company Doctor.

  • Employee assistance scheme.

  • Wedding leave.

  • Moving leave.

  • Residential conveyancing.

  • Will writing.

  • Subsidised restaurant.

  • Interest free season ticket loan

  • Childcare vouchers.

  • Bikes for work scheme.

  • Voluntary benefits including: Virgin Wine, home insurance, gym membership and BUPA membership.

Most popular benefit: Holiday trading and pension salary sacrifice scheme. piggy bank
Most unpopular benefit: Bikes for work scheme.

Benefits tip:

  • Ask the intended recipients which rewards they value.

  • Spend time researching their needs and act accordingly.

Competition for great staff is tough for any law practice, Sandy Boyle HR Director for regional law firm Mills & Reeve explains how introducing a flexible benefits scheme has helped in the battle to attract the best legal professionals and retain them.

“We implemented a flexible benefits plan in April of this year. An extensive employee survey conducted in 2004 was the basis for the scheme. We asked our staff if they would like the ability to flex their benefits to suit their personal circumstances and the response was a resounding yes.”

Having attained Board agreement, Boyle moved to phase one of the scheme and introduced a total reward statement online where the 650 strong staff, based in four locations could access the range of benefits on offer – core and voluntary and assess the value and worth of each.

Phase two completed the process by allowing people to flex a number of their benefits by introducing a range of varied rewards. Amongst the voluntary goodies on offer is an allowance for those moving house of two extra days tagged onto the already generous 25 days plus an extra day to join in seasonal festivities come December.

And for those tying the knot an extra day’s leave is available to help soothe any pre-wedding jitters or arrange final dress fittings and polish speeches.

This lifestyle package has been designed to recognise that employees at Mills & Reeve have personal aspirations and demands outside the working week that need to be accommodated for and the range of flexible benefits goes beyond additional leave for major events.

Amongst the list of available rewards are residential conveyancing, will writing, gym membership and home insurance.

But by far the most popular benefit is the ability to flex the holiday allowance. Employees at the firm can buy or sell up to five extra days annually which says Boyle is enormously popular both for those unable to use up their leave and those wishing to take more.

Boyle believes that the success of this scheme is down to the demographics of the workforce. Two-thirds of staff at the business are female and a large proportion have children. Having the option to trade holiday gives these workers greater flexibility over how to manage school holidays and balance the responsibilities of parenthood and work.

“Our pension salary sacrifice scheme has also been very well received. At no cost to the employee they are able to boost their pension fund by reducing their take home wage in return for a greater employer pension contribution,” says Boyle.

But despite an office based in Cambridge the Bikes for work scheme has been less popular. Only six staff have signed up for the plan.

“I think that the belief that the bikes have to be used solely for work has put staff off,” says Boyle who was surprised by the low take up.

The flexible benefits package has clearly been popular and Boyle puts its success down to taking time to research what employees want and packaging the rewards accordingly.

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Annie Hayes


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