Help your clients save with salary exchange

Salary exchange is a great way to help employers improve their employee benefits package and save money, while generating additional revenue for yourself.

It's a simple, tax efficient way to save into a pension scheme, and offers benefits to employers and their employees.

What is salary exchange?

It's an agreement between an employer, and their employees, where the employee agrees to exchange part of their salary, bonus or even redundancy package for an increased employer pension contribution.

It works in the same way as other salary related benefit schemes, for example company car, cycle to work and childcare vouchers schemes, and it can be easy to set up.

What are the advantages?

  • Employers save on NI contributions.
  • Employees save on tax and 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.

Things to consider

  • Salary exchange may not be suitable for employees on furlough, as employers can’t claim the exchanged portion of their salary.
  • Employers can’t offer it to their employee if their salary will drop below the National Minimum Wage (NMW) after the exchange. 
  • It may not be suitable for employees earning more than £240,000 with a tapered annual allowance. If this does apply, employees could incur additional annual allowance tax charges.
  • Your employees’ yearly pre-tax salaries will reduce by agreeing to salary exchange. This can affect their entitlement to things such as statutory and salary related benefits.

    In the past this may also have impacted the amount they can borrow in terms of a mortgage or loan. These days most lenders will calculate lending based on the notional salary – their salary before the exchange.

Redundancy exchange

No one knows what the future holds. If any of your clients find they need to reduce their staff levels they can offer their employees the option to exchange part of their redundancy package too.

How much can employers save?

The amount an employer can save will depend on the size of their workplace pension scheme, and the value of salary exchanged.

The examples below show how much NI contributions can be saved by introducing salary exchange and keeping all of the savings.

Number of pension scheme members50100500
Total yearly salary payment before exchange £1,500,000 £3,000,000 £15,000,000
Total salary exchanged by employees (5%) £75,000 £150,000 £750,000
Employer NIC rate (2020/21) x 13.8%
Employers annual NIC saving* £10,350   £20,700 £103,500

*Figures are based on an average salary of £30,000 per employee, each exchanging 5% of their salary for a pension contribution. Employer yearly savings are the NI contributions that would be paid without salary exchange in place.

Salary exchange calculator

You can use our salary exchange calculator to produce statements, detailing total savings, pension contributions and take-home pay at employee level.

Find out more

How we can help

We’ve produced a suite of materials to help you engage with employers and help them understand the long-term benefits of salary exchange. These include:

We can also produce group level calculations to help demonstrate employer level savings. Speak to your usual Royal London contact.

Further information

If you’d like more information speak to your usual Royal London contact.

This website is intended for financial advisers only and shouldn't be relied upon by any other person. If you are not an adviser please visit royallondon.com.

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.