It’s job-hunting season, when we resolve to get promoted, move to a larger firm or change direction completely. The start of the year is also a time of motivation for employers, with business growth on the agenda and budget planning at the fore.
But before you update that CV, take the opportunity to look at the bigger picture. Many of us would like a larger salary, certainly, but your job search should also include other factors, such as job satisfaction, work life balance and the wider range of benefits that a new employer can offer, rather than solely focusing on the pound signs.
The winter months are a busy time for insurance renewals - which is unsurprising, really, when you think of all the other areas of our lives in which we make resolutions and goals. So if you’re currently reviewing your future, here are some key areas you could look at:
A pension is a nest-egg for the future; a savings pot you can draw on when you retire to supplement your state pension, which might not be enough to maintain the lifestyle you’d like. Workplace pension schemes, where employers match employee contributions, are no longer as common as they used to be, while there has also been a rise in the ‘gig’ economy and an increase to around five million self-employed workers in the UK.
Staff on zero-hours contracts and self-employed workers are less likely to contribute regularly to a pension than those earning a salary, while a recent report by the Pensions Policy Institute showed that Generation X workers - people born between 1966 and 1980 - are at greater risk of reaching retirement without an adequate or flexible enough income.
Following the introduction of auto-enrolment pensions, employers are obligated to enrol you into a pension scheme and contribute at least three percent of your salary towards it. However, relying solely on this fund might again lead to a shortfall and it’s a good idea to paying into your pension as well - ideally as soon as you start work, but it’s never too late to begin making contributions.
Take a look at the Money Advice Service pensions calculator to see how much you might need and how you can start to save.
If you’re too unwell to work, you can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer. SSP currently stands at £94.25 per week and you can claim it for up to 28 weeks. Depending on your employer and the company sick pay scheme it offers, you may be eligible for more. Of course, this doesn’t apply to self-employed workers and, even if you’re in a staff role, you may find that the sickness benefit offered doesn’t cover your monthly outgoings.
Accident and sickness insurance can help you stay afloat if you need to take time off work due to illness or an accident. It’s available in the form of short term sickness insurance and long term income protection, and the amount you need depends on the level of outgoings you’d want to safeguard should you be unable to work.
Check with your employer to find out if there’s a company or group income protection scheme you could join. If not, use the time indoors on a rainy winter’s day to compare accident and sickness insurance to make sure you’re fully covered. Note that some policies may reduce payments if you’re also in receipt of state benefits or a payout from another insurance policy, so make sure you read the policy documents carefully.
Company health insurance
A forward-thinking employer might offer company health insurance among its benefits, to protect you and your family if you need medical tests or treatment. Also known as business medical insurance, group insurance or corporate health cover, this benefit enables staff to access private healthcare that they might not otherwise be able to afford - a great perk that can help a business attract and retain excellent employees and boost team wellbeing.
The benefits of health insurance include avoiding long NHS waiting times, accessing treatment sooner and choosing a specialist or hospital of your choice. Comparing private medical insurance if your employer doesn’t provide it or if you are self-employed fits in nicely with any other health and wellbeing goals you might have made for 2020 (such as running a marathon!).
Death in service cover
Death in service insurance is a benefit that many companies offer to staff. If you die while you’re on the firm’s payroll, a tax-free lump sum will be paid to your family or named dependants. The benefit is usually between two and four times your salary and your death doesn’t have to occur while you’re actually at work for the sum to be paid.
Death in service cover is, therefore, very similar to life insurance - although you may find that the level of cover offered under the company scheme isn’t enough to meet your family’s needs. The two types of cover can run in conjunction, so it’s fine to take out additional life insurance even if you’re already covered by a death in service policy.
If you’re celebrating your 50th birthday in 2020, you’re in excellent company - Mariah Carey, Melania Trump and Matt Damon will all reach the milestone this year! Turning 50 is a good time to think about life insurance, with a range of life cover policies for the over-50s created especially for you.
After reviewing your benefits and making sure you have the right cover in place, why not make it an annual task? Make a note in your calendar to review your insurance policies at the same time next year, giving yourself peace of mind that your needs and those of your family will continue to be met throughout ever-changing circumstances.