Salary Exchange is an agreement between the employee and the employer. The employee's contract of employment is altered to reflect that they have agreed to exchange part of their future gross salary or bonus entitlement in return for a non-cash benefit, such as an employer pension contribution.
What are the benefits of a Salary Exchange scheme?
- Employers save on NI contributions while employees can save on tax as well as NI contributions.
- Employers can reinvest any NIC savings in their business or their employees’ pension plans.
- Employees receive a higher pension contribution or take-home pay, depending on how the arrangement’s set up.
- Employees can benefit from a bigger retirement fund, if NIC savings are reinvested back into their plan.
Are there any possible drawbacks to a Salary Exchange scheme?
- Lower life cover (employers generally calculate entitlement as a multiple of salary which would be lower)
- Lower borrowing available on mortgages (as per life cover the borrowing level is determined by a multiple of a lower salary)
- Entitlement to state benefits eg Statutory Maternity Pay and the State Pension may be affected if your salary falls below the level at which you pay National Insurance contributions.
- The employee might not be able to revert to their old (pre-sacrifice) salary if personal circumstances change. The employer would have to agree to a further change to the employee's contract of employment.