Riding the fine line between employer obligations and employee perks can feel a bit like a roller coaster for multinational employers. What’s mandated in one country is optional in another.
And even when certain benefits are optional, cultural norms still influence employer decisions.
Case in point, retirement saving schemes.
In the Philippines, retirement saving is discretionary. The Personal Equity and Retirement Account, or PERA, is similar to an IRA program. It’s a supplemental retirement fund.
What is the PERA fund?
The Personal Equity and Retirement Account (PERA) is a tax-advantaged savings account intended to supplement social pensions. The PERA fund is voluntary for both employees and employers in the Philippines.
Most working Filipinos receive a pension as their primary retirement income. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is how the aging Filipino population covers their cost of living. But many choose to supplement that pension with personal retirement savings.
And like many other forms of retirement savings, it’s capped at an annual contribution limit due to the significant tax benefits of socking money away in these accounts.
PERA accounts invest funds into:
United investment trust funds
Stocks from PSE-listed companies
Insurance pension products
What to know about employer contributions
First and foremost, employer contributions to PERA are optional—in every sense of the word. There are no government mandates requiring employer contributions, and Filipino culture doesn’t set any clear expectations for employers either.
A few more things to note:
Employers are subject to the maximum annual contribution of PHP 100,000
Employer contributions are tax-deductible
Contributions have no impact on social security requirements
Employer contributions are not calculated as taxable income for the employee
Sure, there are clear benefits for the employees. But if employer contributions are voluntary, should global employers contribute? It’s a decision each company must make for themselves.
The benefits of PERA contributions in the Philippines
On the upside, when it comes to compensation, PERA contributions may be better for employees than a wage increase. Employees are not taxed on employer contributions to their PERA accounts, while they are taxed on additional wages.
Adding PERA contributions to your benefits package also helps your multinational business to:
Attract and retain top talent
Increase engagement and incentivize performance
Reduce tax liabilities
Companies that offer voluntary contributions like these are generally viewed favorably by their workforce. This perk often leads to a more engaged workforce, higher productivity rates and less turnover.
So, there are both specific benefits and broad scope benefits at play when global employers choose to contribute to PERA funds in the Philippines.
Keep in mind that the Filipino population is generally ill-prepared for retirement. Contributing to PERA in the Philippines could be a little thing for your company—that turns out to be a big, life-changing thing for your multinational workforce.
What to consider before adding PERA contributions as a benefit
However, offering PERA contributions does add another step in your payroll processing.
Like other types of investments, PERA contributions can also be risky. The amount of money that an individual can net from these investments is variable. It depends on where the money is invested and how well that investment performs over time.
There are a few restrictions on PERA withdrawals, so this money isn’t immediately available to your employees. It’s a retirement account, so the 55 and 5 rule is generally applied. This means that the beneficiary must be at least 55 years old, and the account must be open for at least 5 years before funds can be withdrawn.
However, if the beneficiary is suffering from a long-term illness, disability, or is deceased, the 55 and 5 rule may not apply. Employers aren’t simply providing a cushion for retirement. PERA contributions can provide a safety net for workers who suffer severe injuries or illnesses, or for their families in the event of an untimely death.
The bottom line on PERA funds in the Philippines
Contributing to PERA funds in the Philippines is voluntary.
There are plenty of other mandates that already drive up the payroll burden in countries around the world. Many global employers are looking to justify their decision to contribute—or not contribute—to these retirement vehicles.
It can be easy to say no to voluntary contributions, but make sure you understand the full scope of what you’re declining. Yes, investments are an expense for your business, and they don’t offer a guaranteed rate of return for your employees. But some could argue that fighting the global talent shortage with slim benefits packages is even more expensive and risky.
If you’re worried about adding more steps to your global payroll process, we can help. Keep it simple with Payroll 360 services.