Richard Lee is Head of the Combined HR Solutions (CHRS) team, which is the only HR legal team of its kind in the UK providing combined pensions, employment and benefits advice to in-house HR, legal and finance teams.
The CHRS team provides clients with different thinking to ensure they know exactly how to deal with the legal and practical aspects of benefit change exercises, succession planning, salary sacrifice, workplace consultation, flexible benefits and general 'discrimination-proof' benefit provision. Clients receive specialist HR legal advice from a specialist team.
Richard and the CHRS team have helped numerous clients successfully comply with their automatic-enrolment duties, including clients ranging from some of the largest retailers to international airlines and master trust providers. The CHRS team is now advising a range of clients on the legal aspects of re-enrolment.
Richard and the CHRS team also work alongside all of the major HR and pensions/benefits consultants, which means they bring the latest market knowledge and developments to clients as part of providing their legal advice – most recently this means advising on all of the new workplace saving flexibilities which came out of the March 2014 budget, alongside solutions dealing with reducing the Annual and Lifetime Allowances in April 2016.
Richards has worked in the HR legal world since qualifying as a lawyer, setting up the Combined HR Solutions (CHRS) team to meet clients' legal needs across the HR world. This ranges from HR directors needing advice on workplace consultation, to finance directors needing assistance with benefit restructuring, and pensions managers receiving advice on later working lives.
Alongside Director Liz Wood, Richard leads a talented and dedicated team of CHRS lawyers who are always looking at future developments and how best to bring HR legal solutions to clients.
Examples of Richard and his teams work include: succession planning in a world without retirement; age discrimination and benefit provision beyond normal pension age; salary sacrifice with or without auto-enrolment; Defined Contribution pensions - the future of pensions and the new flexibilities; workplace saving and member education; TUPE, pensions and auto-enrolment; and project management on a range of HR legal issues.
There is also a specialist team, ALL ABOUT AGE whom produce regular webinars and articles (through Thomson Reuters).
Richard considers future HR legal developments and how they will affect the UK workforce so he can discuss how best to help clients plan in advance of those changes, helping them to run a successful business, improving their brand and achieving legal compliance. His clients are mainly UK-based but include subsidiaries of many global organisations needing advice on HR and benefits issues in the UK.
His team are always helping clients to successfully respond to the rapid and ever-changing demands of the UK workplace by giving them access to an experienced, trusted adviser and finding cost-effective appropriate solutions to the full range of HR legal issues.
Richard led a 15-lawyer team over a 10-month period advising alongside the HR, pensions and payroll teams at W M Morrisons Supermarkets.
Their work led to the successful introduction of the Morrisons Retirement Saver Plan, a new auto-enrolment compliant cash balance scheme for 130,000 employees. Richard led the team as the project developed across the business workstreams, ensuring ongoing access to quality, specialised legal advice on very tight timescales, hitting the client's staging date in October 2012.
His work with the client included: communications reviews; worker assessments; legislation interpretation; payroll system analysis; TUPE interaction; workforce consultation; data protection and commercial contract reviews.
- AS Watson/Superdrug, Cemex UK, Canon, Interserve, Sanctuary Housing Association, Thomas Miller and Thorntons on benefit restructuring projects.
- Cathay Pacific, Gala Coral, Hackett, JCB, Martin Mcoll, Next, Royal London, Sony, Staples, Wates on auto-enrolment projects.
- Retail, Food & Drink and Housing sector clients.
He was involved with on-site working at the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) to ensure the successful launch of NEST's customer website. The NEST executive team needed to ensure that their customer-facing website was ready for business well in advance of the introduction of auto-enrolment and Richard and his team helped them make sure that happened.
Strength in depth and specialist advice allowed NEST to use the firm's team to provide a legal compliance and review service as the customer website was constructed alongside other advisers and in-house teams working across numerous platforms both in the UK and abroad. In addition to on-site support for the website project, NEST also used Richard and his team for broader pensions advice, supplementing the in-house resource at a crucial time in NEST's development.
Restructuring defined benefit pension schemes is another key area of Richard's work. This can mean advising on moving to less generous final salary provision, or to other forms of defined benefit provision such as CARE schemes and the increasingly common move to defined contribution arrangements. Richard and his CHRS team have advised numerous clients on all aspects of these projects, including employment contract reviews, workforce consultation issues, pension scheme rule interpretation, trustee negotiation/liaison and member communication review.
They have also dealt with union representatives and documenting changes, giving HR legal advice from a single source of specialist lawyers who understand all of the employment/pensions aspects of these projects. Richard has led teams advising on restructuring pension projects for AS Watson/Superdrug, Cemex UK, Express Newspapers, Interserve, Thales, Thomas Miller and Thorntons.