What is the Salary Sacrifice Scheme and How Does it Work?
Maria Peloponisiou~ 5 min Reading time | 28. Oct 2019
Some employers are happy to offer their employees a scheme that can help them boost their pension, reduce the cost of a bicycle, or even receive childcare vouchers. The salary sacrifice scheme can work well for both the employee and employer and could be worth signing up for. Let’s take a closer look at it:
Salary sacrifice is a specific arrangement that employers make to their employees. In this arrangement, the employee will agree to have their earnings reduced. They are reduced by an amount that is equal to the pension contributions that they make. The employer will then agree to pay total pension contributions.
When you use salary sacrifice, it means that both the employer and employee pay less National Insurance. The employer can also maximise the pension contributions by adding the money that has been made. This money can then be made to the pension contribution.
If an employer uses a contribution scheme, the earnings that are used to meet the required are based on the salary before the sacrifice scheme was used.
How do Salary Sacrifice Schemes Work?
The ideal of the salary sacrifice is very simply. You give away some of your salary. In return for this, the employer will give you either increased pension contributions or childcare vouchers. As soon as you have entered the scheme, your pay will be lower. This means you will pay less National Insurance and tax. In addition to this, the employer won’t have to pay Employers’ National Insurance on the money you give up.
Do I Pay Less Tax with Salary Sacrifice?
The amount of money you earn can affect how much National Insurance you pay. However, it will depend on your salary and any non-cash benefits that make up the arrangement. It’s vital, however, that you pay the correct of National Insurance and tax. You need to pay and also deduct the right amount of tax and National Insurance contributions for the cash and benefits you provide.
Increasing your Pension with Salary Sacrifice
Your employer will decide whether the salary sacrifice scheme will affect the contributions that are made into your pension scheme. Employers will often use a suggested pay level so they can calculate the pension contributions. This is so that the employees do not have a disadvantage when using the scheme.
If an employee has been enrolled into the pension scheme automatically, the scheme will be a registered scheme for the purposes of tax. However, there is no tax charged on the National Insurance Contributions that are paid by the employer to the pension scheme.
Childcare Vouchers and Salary Sacrifice
In some cases, agreeing to sacrifice some of your salary will result in the employer giving the employee some vouchers to pay for childcare. It’s essential, however, that if you continue to use your own nursery or childcare provider that they are Ofsted approved or state registered.
There are a few limits to the amount of tax-free childcare vouchers you can claim.
If you pay a basic rate of tax, your voucher limit will be £243 a month
If you pay a higher rate of tax, your voucher limit will be £124 a month
If you pay an additional rate of tax, your voucher limit will be £110.
If your employer decides to offer you additional childcare vouchers, you will have to pay tax on them.
Salary Sacrifice and Cycle to Work Scheme
The Government has created a cycle to work scheme as part of its Green Transport Plan. This is an aim to cut the congestion on roads. It is also hoped that it will improve everyone’s health and help the environment. This scheme has been used by more than 1 million people across the UK. It has helped them save some money on their bike and any accessories that they need when they’re cycling along the roads to work.
Who can apply to the scheme?
If you would like to take part in the scheme, you need to be at least 16 years of age. You should earn no less than the minimum wage once the salary sacrifice has been taken out of your pay. You will also need to be paid and taxed using the Pay As you Earn system.
What an employer needs to do
Your employer needs to register with the Cyclescheme. This is because they need to pay for the bike or accessories. They also need to ensure that your monthly payments come from your salary.
What you get
This is a scheme that ensures you get a bike and accessories at a discount. You also spread the cost. You can essentially get an accessory that ensures you can keep using your bike to get to work. There are more than 2,000 retailers in the UK and online that will accept the Cyclescheme.
What you have to do
First of all, you have to ride your bike to work. Secondly, the Department of Transport insists that at least half of the bike’s use involves cycling to work. You will also need to ensure that you agree to the terms that have been set out by the scheme. Some of these terms are:
To agree to your Hire Agreement.
To ensure the bicycle so it’s protected against theft.
Agree to the ownership option.
Many of the schemes ensure you save at least 25% off the cost of the bike and any accessories.
What are Flexible Benefit Packages?
These packages allow you to vary your pay, you can adjust your salary so you receive more or less, or you can opt for more benefits. Many organisations have a limited form of flexibility. These benefit packages include childcare vouchers, pensions, cars, mobile phone, food in a restaurant and more.
What are the Downsides to Salary Sacrifice?
The salary sacrifice scheme is not available to everyone. This is because it can potentially reduce someone’s earnings to below the minimum wage. There are also a few other downsides to consider:
Inability to borrow a mortgage that’s as large as it could be. This is because the level of borrowing is determined by the lower salary.
The terms and conditions of your employment can be affected.
The salary sacrifice scheme can be very beneficial. It can help provide childcare vouchers, save money on bicycles, and even help to contribute towards your pension. There are many benefits to the salary sacrifice scheme you just have to make sure it offers you what you need.