Insurer Unum has launched a flexible workplace-provided benefits system in the UK to allow employees to choose additional benefits alongside those offered by their employer.
Called Benni, the new employee-paid workplace benefits solution will allow employers to offer this to their staff alongside the traditional, employer-paid benefits - such as a pension.
It will also help advisers by opening new doors for them with corporate clients, who may have only previously considered employer-paid benefits, or for those employers who do not have an existing workplace benefits offering but want to be able to offer a way of getting their staff engaged with vital insurances without cost to the employer.
The platform is available both as a standalone product and can be white-labelled alongside existing employer-paid solutions.
Employees can use Benni to choose, use and pay for the benefits they will need.
Benefits available through Benni include medical cash plan insurance, dental care, critical illness insurance, life insurance and retail discounts.
The platform has a support team working behind it, communicating to employees about the benefit offering, educating employers and employees on how it works, how to make their choices and helping with signing up to benefits.
According to Peter O’Donnell, chief executive of Unum, as the UK workforce becomes increasingly flexible and diverse, a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits is "no longer an option".
However, by providing platforms such as Benni, Mr O'Donnell said a more tailored proposition can be created for individuals, through the workplace.
He said: "Intermediaries can help businesses future-proof their benefits approach, extending their range and appeal to work effectively across the broadest range of incomes, ages and lifestyles while maximising value.
"Benni gives intermediaries an opportunity to provide a broader range of solutions to existing clients and attract businesses that in the past would have seen employer paid options as not available.”
He added the new solution is available to employers with minimal impact to the bottom line.
This will have resonance with many companies, as cost has always - perhaps falsely so - been seen as a sticking-point when it comes to offering life insurance or medical care insurance alongside a workplace pension.
As reported in Financial Adviser, in October 2016, industry body Group Risk Development (Grid) carried out a study of 501 UK firms, with between five and 1,000 employees.
The study discovered 70 per cent of employers thought group protection would cost too much to roll out to all staff.
Some 8 per cent of employers even thought it would set them back more than 10 per cent of their payroll. However, the actual average cost is just 0.5 per cent of payroll, according to Grid.
But Unum's tie-up with Benni means employers can offer insurance and other benefits to their employees without having to pay premiums themselves through payroll.