UK: Employee Benefits Review - Autumn 2011

Last Updated: 10 October 2011
Article by Peter Maher

EDITOR'S NOTE

Just when we thought we might be witnessing some sustained growth in the economy, the world comes crashing down around our ears again. Industrial output is negative, job creation is negative and our high street banks are in danger of being sued by the US Government.

So, where to now for pensions and related benefits?

I say, revisit the fundamentals. If we believe that history as it relates to economic cycles will broadly replicate itself, then we know that over the longer term equities will outperform the three other major asset classes: cash, bonds and property. Therefore no matter how tough the current economic climate, it should not alter long-term investment/retirement advice.

I have to say I get particularly concerned when I see headlines across the media to the effect that the value of pensions has been wiped out because stock markets have tumbled around the world. Yes, it is true to say at that point in time the value of assets held within pension funds may have diminished, but unless a crystallisation event is occurring at the same time it is broadly irrelevant and serves only to frighten the ill-informed.

The real concern should exist in relation to the effect the weak economy will have on employers, particularly those sponsoring defined benefit pension arrangements. In this instance, it will be for the trustees to determine the quality of the employer covenant which will be of a more pressing nature.

Continuing the theme of where the real problems are to be found, a recent survey conducted by Swiss Re has revealed that the average UK defined benefit pension fund is 10% underfunded for longevity risk. This shortfall has been worsened by the Government and professional bodies underestimating how long people will live, as a result of which most schemes now have larger than expected liabilities. Isn't it strange that we haven't seen this in the headlines, given that this is a deficit that won't bounce back as equities usually do?

Further, an interim report from the Association of Consulting Actuaries has revealed that more than 25% of employers are unaware of the starting date for autoenrolment, with 75% admitting they haven't budgeted for such changes.

So for the avoidance of doubt, between 2012 and 2016 every employer has a duty to designate a qualifying workplace pension scheme into which it will automatically enrol all of its qualifying workers and make contributions on their behalf.

No employer is exempt from this requirement and the choice it now faces is which pension scheme or schemes to use to comply with the new regulations. Even if the employer has an existing workplace pension scheme, it will require reviewing to ensure it complies with the new regulations.

Your company's auto-enrolment staging date may well be some way off but the time for planning is now. Failure to do so could leave your company exposed to financial and other risks.

I do hope you find some helpful and interesting reading in this issue of Employee benefits review .

NEW TO THE WORKPLACE THIS AUTUMN - AGENCY WORKERS REGULATIONS

By Ian Luck

Ian Luck discusses the arrival of the Agency Workers Regulations and the impact on both employers and agencies.

From October 2011 the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) come into force. The AWR implement the Temporary and Agency Workers Directive approved by the European Parliament in 2008. Agency workers in the UK who have worked for a company for more than 12 weeks will have the same basic employment rights and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by the company.

From the first day of an agency worker's employment, employers must ensure the agency worker has access to amenities like the canteen, childcare facilities, transport services and job vacancies, just as any permanent member of staff would have. Pregnant agency workers will also be allowed to take paid leave for ante-natal appointments during an assignment.

After 12 weeks in the same job, the new equal treatment entitlements relate to pay and other basic working conditions, such as annual leave, overtime, night work and rest periods. The definition of pay is wide and covers holiday pay, paid bank holidays, overtime rates, shift allowances, unsocial hour premiums and bonuses related to performance.

While some liability will lie with recruitment agencies, which will face increased payroll and administration costs, together with a potential rise in tribunal claims, ill-prepared employers could also face a rise in costs.

Employers who hire workers through agencies will have to provide the agency with up-to-date information on terms and conditions so they can ensure that an agency worker receives the equal treatment they will be entitled to. Agencies are responsible for monitoring and ensuring that both the agency worker and hirer are kept informed of any changes to the pay and basic working entitlements after the 12-week qualifying period.

The hirer would be liable if they do not provide the agency worker with 'day one' rights, but both the hirer and the agency could be held liable for pay and conditions breaches after 12 weeks.

Agency workers will also be included within the pension auto-enrolment regulations that are being introduced with effect from October 2012.

The AWR are backed by a range of antiavoidance measures to prevent employers from breaking the new rules. Recourse for agency workers through a compensation order via an employment tribunal can be had if a complaint is upheld. In cases where avoidance of the new AWR is found an additional £5,000 may be fined.

There have been many ideas as to how an employer could reduce the impact of the AWR, including limiting the use of agency workers for assignments to a period of fewer than 12 weeks. There are, however, the previously mentioned antiavoidance provisions that address situations where it is deemed that assignments are designed deliberately to deprive agency workers of their entitlements.

Negotiating exclusivity deals with agencies in exchange for them agreeing to absorb some of the additional costs is another way employers could reduce the impact of the AWR. With most employers using agency workers from time to time it would seem prudent that these negotiations start soon.

Guidance notes issued by the Government can be found on the department for business innovation and skill's website: www.bis.gov.uk

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE STAGE?

By Julia Ridger

With new employer duties coming into effect soon, is your company prepared for workplace pensions reform?

The Pensions Regulator's detailed guidance on workplace pensions reform has now been published. It provides clarification on how the working population is classified under the new legislation, the new employer duties and guidance on the steps an employer can take to prepare.

New employer duties and safeguards come into effect from 1 October 2012. Each employer will be allocated a date from when these new duties will apply, known as their 'staging date'.

The table below provides details of the relevant staging dates for different sized companies. The staging date is dependent on the number of people in the employer's largest pay as you earn (PAYE) scheme as at 1 April 2012. If you have more than one PAYE scheme then the staging date will be that of the largest employer. The number of employees in the PAYE scheme may well change between 1 April 2012 and the staging date, however the staging date will not be affected regardless of the change in size of the company.

The Pensions Regulator will contact each employer 12 months prior to the staging date to inform it of its duty to comply with the auto-enrolment laws.

Having looked at the table you may well see that your staging date is a long way off, say mid to late 2013, and think no action is required for some time. However, that is only around 24 months away and, considering you will hear from the Pensions Regulator 12 months before that, it will come round before you know it.

It's imperative now to at least consider the implications of workplace pensions reform, by taking a view of the likely make up of the workforce at your staging date and ascertaining the potential costs to the business if all eligible employees are automatically enrolled.

Careful consideration also needs to be made as to whether any existing pension arrangement meets the minimum requirements, in particular whether all eligible workers can enter the existing arrangement, and whether this has an impact on the structure and pricing of the current scheme. We believe the annual management charge for existing schemes held with insurers will be adversely affected if additional members enter the scheme as the average annual contribution is likely to be reduced.

Employers also need to start assessing how best to communicate the changes to employees. Recent market research from Legal & General identified that employees were heavily in favour of postal communication, and this will need to be well designed and written to ensure that the workforce take note of it.

These are just the first key steps employers need to think about to ensure that workplace pensions reform is successfully delivered on reaching their staging date.

In our next issue we will look in more detail at identifying the different categories of workers and the steps the employer must take for each. We also touch on whether the National Employment Savings Trust is the most appropriate arrangement for some employers to use or whether an employer-sponsored master trust or grouped personal pension plan would be the best approach.

PENSION SCHEME DEFICITS - A CORPORATE NEMESIS

By Julia Ridger and Peter Maher

Pension scheme deficits are often at the centre of restructuring negotiations. We discuss the issues.

Recent corporate activity such as that surrounding Uniq (formerly Unigate), Cattles Plc and Aquascutum, along with court judgments such as Bloom & Ors v The Pensions Regulator (2010), have shown that defined benefit pension schemes are often at the centre of restructuring discussions and that pension trustees and the Pensions Regulator are key players in this arena.

Contributory factors

Many companies remain responsible for substantial pension liabilities, even when the build up of new benefits under the scheme has long since ceased. There are numerous factors that have contributed to the prominence of pension scheme deficits. Increased regulation, together with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) levy (based on the strength of the employer covenant), has escalated the cost of funding a defined benefit pension scheme. The volatility of equity markets continues to exacerbate funding deficits and the increase in liabilities under schemes from longer member life expectancy has also had a negative effect on the funding positions of such schemes.

Pension debt due by an employer on insolvency is calculated on an annuitised buy-out basis. This involves calculating the cost of buying out the pension scheme liabilities with an appropriate provider, either an insurance company or a noninsurance company. The latter are not subject to the same regulatory regime as the former and so are free to use different structures, although this carries its own risks. The cost of taking on pension scheme deficits is normally quite high as conservative assumptions are used in valuing liabilities. Alternative investment strategies and funding methods for the scheme are not considered.

Moral hazard/anti-avoidance Powers

Another matter which must be considered in all corporate restructurings is whether the Pensions Regulator could view it as an excuse to abandon the pension scheme liabilities and 'dump' the scheme into the PPF. If this is the case then, under its so-called 'anti-avoidance powers', the Regulator can impose a liability for pension scheme funding on companies and/or the directors of companies 'associated' or 'connected' with the sponsoring employer. A financial support direction and/or contribution notice is issued by the Regulator for settlement and can be imposed even if the associated company has never participated in the pension scheme.

Early compromise

Employers and trustees should always consult at an early stage when it becomes evident the employer's covenant is weakening. The Pensions Regulator should be included in the discussions from the outset as it may be possible to obtain a compromise over the pension deficit, thereby perhaps saving the employer from insolvency and enabling a rescue plan. There must, however, be buy-in from all parties. If, in the initial restructuring discussions, the employer is granted clearance from the Regulator, then although the clearance statement will not give the transaction approval, it will give assurance that the Regulator will not use its anti-avoidance powers in relation to it.

If it can be demonstrated that the outcome of a consensual restructuring will be better than formal insolvency, by allowing the company to survive and so preserving greater value, then the Regulator may agree to the transfer of the scheme to PPF control. This leaves the employer in a better position to meet its commitments to other creditors. Solutions of this kind may not work for every situation, but can have measurable benefits for protecting businesses and jobs if adopted successfully.

An additional factor which may increase the burden of pension schemes on employers is the ongoing running cost. This could easily be reduced by reviewing the adviser's/administrator's costs and by looking at methods of matching a proportion of the liabilities held within the scheme in the form of an annuity buy-in.

EQUALISATION OF NORMAL RETIREMENT DATES – A DONE DEAL?

By Michael Jones

Michael M Jones of Charles Russell LLP discusses the need for employers with defined benefit pension arrangements to double check their equalisation compliance position.

On 17 May 1990 the European Court issued the Barber decision. It held that equal pay as between males and females applied also to occupational pension schemes. Further European cases between 1993 and 1994 clarified matters.

Barber is still relevant today because employers with defined benefit pension schemes are finding to their cost that their previous attempt to equalise may not be valid.

The Barber decision impacted on pension schemes that had sex-based normal retirement dates (NRDs), such as 65 for males and 60 for females. As a result of the decision, from 17 May 1990 until the scheme actually equalised its NRD (the ' Barber window'), the disadvantaged sex (usually the male) was to have the benefit of the lower NRD (i.e. 60).

In practical terms this meant that scheme rules would need to allow males and females to retire without needing consent from age 60. It also meant that any actuarial reduction on early retirement had to be based on the lower NRD of 60 for benefits accrued during the Barber window.

Most pension schemes sought to close their own Barber window between 1993 and 1995. This was often done via an announcement with an amending deed being produced at a subsequent date.

The issue is still a live one today because for many pension schemes issuing announcements alone was not a valid way to amend the scheme. Such schemes required deeds, written resolutions or other formal procedures to validly amend their terms. Therefore, it was not until the formal amendment procedure was complied with, often years later, that the change took effect.

While many pension schemes sought to get around this time gap by making retrospective amendments, recent case law has clarified that benefits granted by European law cannot be amended retrospectively. This means that retrospective equalisation amendments are likely to only be valid from the date of agreement, not from any earlier date specified.

This can result in employers finding that they have a hidden material liability sitting in their pension scheme which hits their balance sheet. Recent cases have inspired some employers to open the bonnet of their pension scheme to look inside. Other employers are looking to de-risk their schemes and move the assets into buy-in contracts. This benefit review procedure can lead to the discovery of a problem with the equalisation process.

In most cases employers with active or historical defined benefit pension arrangements should check their equalisation compliance position. In many instances they will find their position is compliant. However, this is not necessarily the case, and the position may at least require further investigation. The problem will not go away and, in extreme cases, where the Barber window has never validly been closed, inattention will ultimately only increase the employer's liability. In this case, forewarned is forearmed.

ARE YOU PAYING TOO MUCH FOR YOUR ADMINISTRATION?

By Ken Burfitt

Ken Burfitt explains how closing a defined benefit pension scheme is not the end of the story; ongoing administration costs and services should be carefully monitored.

Many defined benefits arrangements have already closed to future accrual and many more are currently going through the same process. Once the consultations are complete, the member communications finished and the documentation executed you can relax; at last the scheme has been successfully closed – but should that really be the end of the process?

Talk from your consultant quickly turns to de-risking and the eventual winding up of the scheme. The asset mix also needs to be considered to better match its newly closed status. However, there is another step that many boards of trustees and their advisers (who are sometimes also their administrators) forget to take.

Did you ask your administrator to reduce their standard charges now that the scheme has closed?

Several of the normal administration processes become significantly simpler once a scheme has closed to future accrual and the members' preserved entitlements have been established. Now is the time to take steps to ensure that any historical benefit quirks are sorted out and, where possible, simplified. Once you have done that, it's time to consider how to save money by managing the scheme administration more effectively.

Mercers, one of the leading administrators in this market, recently commented: "As more and more occupational defined benefit schemes are closing to new members and future pension accrual, it naturally follows that the cost of delivering the administration services to the scheme reduces as the need for managing ongoing data interfaces and benefit statement information falls away. In our experience we would see the charges for this element of the population reduce by between 10% and 30%."

Smith & Williamson does not offer a defined benefit pension administration service to its clients. As a result, our employee benefits consultants can review third-party administrator services without any vested interest.

Our pension audit team regularly visit and review pension schemes and come across most administrators along the way, so we are well placed to get up-to-date feedback on what works and what doesn't in the administration world.

Our consultants can help you to realise significant savings by comparing current administration services against those that are actually required for the proper operation of a closed scheme. Such a review focuses minds on what is 'nice to have' and what is actually necessary in a newly closed scheme.

Once the required administration services have been agreed, we can help you by comparing your current services and costs against other leading providers. Often this results in a more streamlined service with an appropriate cost reduction from the holding administrator, but there will be times when a change of provider will be needed.

A number of specialist administration providers now offer a high-quality service aimed specifically at closed schemes. Our benchmarking facility can help match trustees with quality administrators who view your scheme as attractive new business. Their service will routinely include the management of the data handover and liaison with your former administrator to facilitate a smooth transfer.

RAISING AWARENESS - GROUP INCOME PROTECTION INSURANCE

By Matthew Haswell

Matt Haswell looks at the potential of group income protection schemes to protect the workforce and alleviate pressure on the welfare budget.

DEMOS recommendations

The independent think tank, DEMOS, cites public services and welfare as one of the themes upon which its work has focused in recent years. As a part of its Progressive Conservatism project, chaired by David Willetts MP, DEMOS has teamed up with UNUM, a leading provider of income protection insurance in the UK, to investigate incapacity welfare provision in the UK.

DEMOS embarked on this research specifically to address "...two interlinked deficiencies in public policy: the inadequacy of welfare coverage in protecting the squeezed middle when they are unable to work, and the huge cost to the taxpayer of disability benefits".

This rare venture between think tank and insurer has resulted in a report "of mutual benefit" which includes the following recommendations.

Reform statutory sick pay

It is recommended that compulsion should be introduced and all employers be required to insure their employees against sickness, ill health or injury so that the insurance company rather than the employers themselves, will be responsible for paying statutory sick pay (SSP).

Employer incentive

It is proposed that employers make payments to employees towards the cost of purchasing their own income protection insurance, for example a suggested incentive of £100 per policy.

Build the market

This can be assisted by Government subsidising income protection policies for public sector employees and sharing the cost of national insurance rebate available with employers who choose to subsidise coverage for their workforce.

Reform the £16,000 savings means test

The current means test forces those who become unemployed to spend any savings above £16,000 before receiving any state assistance. It suggested that this is counterproductive, causes anger and resentment and should be replaced by a system whereby savings are left untouched by the state for the first six months of absence from work/unemployment. The important role of income protection insurance is a constant theme of this report.

Income protection insurance

Income protection insurance is an insurance policy which will pay an individual a percentage of their salary in the event that they are unable to work due to accident, illness or injury after a defined period of absence (usually six months).

While it may seem to make sense to insure one's salary, research from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows that only 9.4% of UK workers have income protection insurance and fewer then one in ten private sector employees benefit from such cover.

This is in contrast to other insurances. As per ABI: 34% of households have life insurance, 23% of cat and dog owners insure their pets, 78% of households have home contents insurance and according to the Home Office 63% of homeowners have buildings insurance.

The gap between taking out income protection insurance and other insurances is due to several factors:

  • lack of interest – an "it won't happen to me" mentality
  • perceived high cost of purchasing such insurance
  • a basic lack of awareness of the need for or the availability of the solution.

Group income protection schemes

According to Swiss Re, only approximately 1.8 million employees are covered by employer-sponsored group income protection schemes. This is not surprising as companies are only required to offer SSP for 28 weeks. Many employers that do have such group income protection schemes only open them up to senior staff, leaving much of the workforce without insurance.

The Government welfare budget has expanded greatly over the last decade, 45% in real terms according to Charles River Associates. As such the Government is keen to push responsibility for financial protection back to the individual or indeed the employer.

UNUM commenced a marketing campaign in June this year to raise awareness among employees with no income protection. This includes a media partnership with the Guardian, including guardian.co.uk, and activities in social media. Later this year it will also commence a TV advertising campaign which will obviously reach a large audience. UNUM's CEO, Jack McGarry, stated: "our goal is to get UK employees to understand why everybody needs a backup plan and to start conversations about it with their employers and colleagues."

To date this kind of marketing has not been seen in this area; it will be interesting to gauge its results and see how many employers face queries regarding income protection schemes from their staff. It would be sensible for employers to prepare for questions if they do not currently sponsor income protection schemes for their employees, and to be ready to promote their schemes if they do.

Group income protection schemes are available in various forms with many options available in terms of features and levels of insurance with corresponding premium costs.

TAX EFFECTIVE REMUNERATION – NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE

By Martyn Cross

Tailoring remuneration packages to suit the individual is becoming increasingly important in light of recent legislative changes.

With the higher rate of income tax at 50% and national insurance contributions for both employees and employers increasing by 1% in April 2011, reducing the tax burden on executive remuneration is becoming even more important. Yet recent legislative changes have made many of the ways remuneration was paid in the past far less tax effective, and even penal in certain executives' circumstances.

While there are still tax effective schemes available to companies to reward their employees, increasingly, tailoring the remuneration package to suit the personal situation of the individual is the best way to provide tax efficient remuneration to executives and key employees. Once established, it is important to ensure that the employee or executive appreciates its true value.

The practical effects of the tax raising measures effective since April 2011 are beginning to be felt and providing remuneration packages that reward, motivate and retain key employees and executives is becoming increasingly difficult. The loss of an individual's personal allowance can mean that any employees earning over £100,000 effectively suffer 62% deductions on their income until it exceeds £114,950. Those whose earnings exceed £150,000 lose 52% in deductions from each additional £1 earned.

Yet at the time they are most needed, tax and national insurance effective schemes, such as employee benefit trusts and employer-funded retirement benefit schemes, have lost many of their advantages. Even pensions, while still tax effective for some, for others, once the impact of the new annual allowance and life time allowance changes are assessed, can be very tax ineffective given an individual's pension entitlement.

In light of these issues the use of executive counselling services is becoming increasingly popular. These ensure that key employees and directors get the most from the benefits they are paid and help them to give their personal affairs the same attention as that given to company matters.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.