Make your job work for you

By at home

With redundancy figures set to rise and more employees being forced to cut hours and salaries, it does make you feel grateful if you are still employed in this current economic climate. But some companies are taking advantage of this gratitude and not offering any added extras to employees in a bid to save money. It’s up to you to make sure you get what you deserve.

Bite the bullet
Everyone should be offered a statutory pay rise on a yearly basis but some companies are foregoing even this, let alone offering any more. Here are six ways that you can make your boss sit up and take notice.

1 Find out how much you are worth by asking around and getting an idea from advertised jobs similar to yours, from your colleagues and your contemporaries in other companies. If you’re underpaid then you can put forward a case to your boss or the company’s finance director.
2 Be confident and state your case clearly. From your boss’s point of view it is cheaper to keep someone who has worked for the company and knows the ropes than it is to recruit and train a new person.
3 Increase your value in the months leading up to your demand by working harder and better. Volunteer to help on extra things, even if it means giving up a few weekends or evenings.
4 List the things you have achieved and added to the company, including all the times you’ve worked beyond your current job description.
5 Don’t expect an answer straight away. Give your boss some time to think about it (ask for a response within two weeks) and remember to be specific about how much you want.
6 If you’re not getting anywhere with a pay rise, try to negotiate for better or more flexible hours, extra benefits and perks, such as training.

Benefits that work for you
Companies often offer benefit packages that can be so complex you don’t take advantage of them.
• Childcare vouchers are commonly offered to working parents. It’s just a question of filling in a few forms and you can save up to £1,200 per year. If your company isn’t signed up to the scheme, ask your boss to visit – it benefits the company financially too, saving them about £350 per employee.
• You also have a right to request flexible working hours if you have a child under the age of 16 or if you are a carer for an adult. This can involve working part-time, flexi hours or job sharing. If you are turned down, your company has to give a valid ‘business’ reason why it won’t work.

Health and wellbeing
Your health is important to your company because sickness, particularly long-term, costs a fortune. That’s why many companies offer reduced gym membership for staff, healthcare cash plans, private medical insurance (PMI) and health screening.
The cost of private health insurance has soared in recent years, however, and some companies are setting limits on outpatient treatment, so look into what’s on offer before you sign up.

Employee benefits
Flexible benefit schemes enable employers to allow staff to select the benefits that suit them, and having the choice of perks is popular among employees.
Options often include tax-efficient benefits such as mobile phones or salary sacrifice pension contributions, and the chance to buy extra holiday days.

Shares and share options

Share-based benefits can take the form of an outright ‘gift’ of shares to all employees or a ‘save-as-you-earn’ scheme, where employees set aside a certain amount of money, which is used to buy shares at a discount.
This is worth doing even if you don’t stay in the company because your savings will earn interest tax-free and you’ll get it back even if you leave the scheme.

Other perks that work
• Cycleschemes – some companies are making the most of the government’s Green Trasnport Plan Initiative and providing tax and NI-free loans for employees to buy bikes for getting to work and their own leisure.
• Payroll giving – employees can give to their favourite charity directly through their pay. Payments that your employees make through a Payroll Giving Scheme are deducted from your pay before tax is deducted, which means that employees are given tax relief on their donation immediately – and at their highest rate of tax.

Money sense…Only two in every 100 working parents have signed up for the childcare voucher scheme, which could save families up to £1,200 per year.

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