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News digest 18/12/15: Public pensions’ governance failure

18 December 2015 by Henry Ker

Public pensions’ governance failure - read more

Public pension schemes failing to engage with governance

Less than a third of public service pension schemes have plans in place to ensure full compliance with new governance standards introduced by the 2013 Public Service Pensions Act. The findings follow new research by the Pensions Regulator.

The regulator plans to work with pension schemes in the New Year to ensure that they have fully implemented the Act. The Act introduces new governance, cost control, design and administration requirements.

Concerns over Mike Ashley’s dominant role at Sports Direct

There are further concerns over the corporate governance arrangements at Sports Direct, as shareholders question Mike Ashley’s, Founder and Deputy Executive Chairman, methods and total control of the company.

These concerns follow accusations that the company’s temporary warehouse staff are effectively paid below the National Minimum Wage (NMW) due to compulsory searches at the end of shifts. These time consuming searches are not included in their hours for pay purposes, meaning they take home less than the NMW for their total time. It was also revealed there are harsh deductions from employees’ pay packets for minor lateness.

Sports Direct has since issued a statement, refuting the claims as ‘an unfair portrayal’ and said it will carry out a review of staff terms and conditions.

For more on fair labour practice and companies exploiting loopholes in the NMW, see this month’s news analysis – ‘Monsoon and Modern Slavery’.

Europe’s teens face tighter parental controls

Under new EU data protection, European teenagers may have to secure parental permission to join social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat before the age of 16. The move will make it illegal for companies to handle the data of anyone aged 15 or under without parental permission. It has upset US technology companies who feel it could damage their business models, which rely particularly on that demographic for quick growth.

Younger directors needed to mitigate cyber risk

There are calls for companies to hire a younger generation of directors to combat the ‘systemic threat’ to the financial system that cyber risk poses. The call comes from City of London bosses recently polled by the Financial Times and follows a recent survey by PwC, which found that 90% of large UK organisations had reported a cyber attack this year (up from 81% last year).

Women in the City will get 50% lower bonus

Women in the City are expecting to take home lower bonuses than their male counterparts, in both total amount and also in proportion to their salary. The average bonus for men is just over a third (34%) of their annual salary, whereas the average bonus for women is just over a fifth of salary (21%), according to research by recruitment firm Astbury Marsden.

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