MHC: Pension professionals say regulations are ‘too complex’

MHC: Pension professionals say regulations are 'too complex'

Stephen Gillick

More than three-quarters of pension professionals believe that pensions regulations in Ireland are too complex, according to a survey by Mason Hayes & Curran LLP.

The business law firm surveyed more than 120 HR and pension professionals attending its recent webinar, Attracting & Retaining Talent – Future Trends in Employee Benefit Packages.

While 78 per cent said pensions regulations are too complex, around two-thirds (67 per cent) said they were satisfied with the pension options available for single schemes in Ireland.

Stephen Gillick, partner and head of pensions at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “A lot has been happening in the pensions world of late and it’s not surprising that Irish employers are finding it an increasingly complex area to navigate.

“Between changes to the state pension system, the move to master trusts and the new EU rules on occupational pensions (the IORP II Directive), this is a time of change and flux for Ireland’s pension landscape and there are many legal and practical aspects for employers to consider.”

The event also discussed the State’s plans for auto enrolment in workplace pension schemes, which is scheduled to take place in early 2024. When asked, 70 per cent of respondents said they do not believe that business owners and employers will be able to get systems and processes in place to meet this deadline.

Mr Gillick said: “Ireland is the only OECD country that doesn’t yet operate an auto enrolment system or similar scheme.

“The new system is designed to simplify the pensions decision for workers and make it easier for employers to offer a workplace pension. But our survey findings show that Irish businesses do not feel ready for pension auto enrolment, and with only nine months to go until its introduction, it is clear that organisations need to take action now.

“This includes looking at their existing pension arrangements and examining how these can be made compliant with the forthcoming auto enrolment requirements.”

The event explored the use of equity incentive schemes, particularly growth share schemes, as a means to incentivise key staff. However, only 36 per cent of those surveyed worked in a business with a share option/share incentive scheme.

Conall Geraghty, partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, noted: “I expect to see wider adoption of option and share incentive programmes in 2023 as businesses facing inflation-driven cost increases look for cashflow neutral ways of attracting and retaining talent in what remains a challenging market for employers.”

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