Employer contributions to workplace pension schemes vary “significantly” depending on industry and gender, according to advice firm Profile Pensions.

According to the company’s research, which was based on data gleaned from the Office for National Statistics and employment websites, employers in the financial services sector were the most generous in terms of average pension contribution, paying 9.5% of salary on average.

The education sector was the second most generous, with employers paying 9.3% of salary, while workers in the “electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply” sectors received employer contributions of 7.1% on average.

At the other end of the scale, companies in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector paid 2% of salary, which is now below the legal minimum contribution under auto-enrolment rules introduced in April 2019 – Profile Pension’s calculations were based on 2018 data.

Profile Pensions’ research also revealed that men received higher contributions than women on average – 4.6%, compared with 4.4% – but across sectors the difference varied significantly.

Male/female symbols

Women generally receive higher employer contributions than men in the education sector

In education, women on average received 9.3% of salary in employer pension contributions, compared with 7.9% for men. However, in many other areas men received more: 5.3% compared with 4.4% in manufacturing, and 2.9% versus 2% in water supply.

Michelle Gribbin, Profile Pensions’ CIO, said ensuring women were not penalised for taking career breaks was “as much of an organisational culture issue as it is a government policy issue”.

“Firms should really start to get to grips with the fundamentals and fully adopt a policy of ‘equal pay and pension contributions for equal roles’, applied to both full-time and part-time workers,” Gribbin said. “As a further step, firms regularly reporting on gender disparities in income and pension contributions really helps ensure good transparency and commitment on this issue.”

Profile Pensions’ full research can be found here.

Two more DC master trusts authorised

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has authorised two more defined contribution (DC) master trusts, bringing the number of schemes approved since the authorisation process began in October last year to 13. 

Railpen’s £118m (€128.5m) DC section – which serves 27 employers in the UK’s railways sector – was added to TPR’s list of approved master trusts this morning.

Chris Hannon, trustee chair of Railways Pension Scheme

Chris Hannon, trustee chair of Railways Pension Scheme

Chris Hannon, chair of the Railways Pension Trustee Company, said: “Gaining authorisation is a testament to the hard work and expertise of the master trust team and to the quality of service we offer our members and clients, giving them the assurance that they are with the right provider.

“We will continue to develop the [master trust] offering within this new framework, improving our credentials to existing and prospective clients. High governance and oversight standards are the way we deliver a great experience and outcome to […] members.”

Meanwhile, Aon announced today that its master trust had also been approved by TPR.

Tony Pugh, Aon’s DC solutions leader for the EMEA region, said the authorisation process had “brought real and positive rigour to the defined contribution market”.

TPR has so far approved 13 master trusts including vehicles operated by Fidelity, Legal & General, Willis Towers Watson, Mercer and Standard Life, as well as the DC sections of the Universities Superannuation Scheme and TPT Retirement Solutions.