UK businesses are proceeding with caution amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the findings of a recent survey by the Reward & Employee Benefits Association [REBA].

Just over a third of respondents (34 per cent) said they were still assessing the impact of the crisis on their business and its future sustainability.

Sixty-three per cent of businesses expect to access – or have now accessed – the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (otherwise known as the furlough scheme). Just four per cent of these businesses plan to use it for their entire workforce, with 96 per cent expecting to use it for selected roles.

However, many employers do intend to reduce pay for both their employee base (38 per cent) and their executives (36 per cent), with bonuses also set to take a hit. The majority of businesses who responded were still unsure how the current situation will affect pay and bonuses in the mid- to long-term.

On a more positive note, the survey found that benefits spend remains steady, and in some cases is increasing, especially when related to wellbeing. Insurance benefits in particular remain constant, with employers promising that cover levels will remain the same for critical illness (99 per cent), group private medical insurance (91 per cent) and group income protection (98 per cent).

Employee assistance programmes are a high priority, too, with 25 per cent of respondents planning to increase spending and 74 per cent intending to retain their current spend.

BHSF chief commercial officer Brian Hall said: “The survey results closely match our own experience.

“Conversations are now moving away from confinement concerns to job security, second-wave fears, wage cuts, and the growing realisation that this may only be the beginning of a lengthy impact on people’s lives and their employers’ businesses.

“It may take us years to adjust to what has happened.”

Mark Abrams, chief executive of Auriga Services, added: “The pandemic has caused a great deal of economic uncertainty for both businesses and employers alike so the results of this survey aren’t hugely surprising.

“The full economic impact remains to be seen, but it’s likely some repercussions will be longer-term.”

This was REBA’s second survey concerning the impact of the pandemic . They received 213 responses from its members – including the BBC, BP, Costa Coffee, easyJet, Ikea, Marks & Spencer, and Santander – representing roughly 1.3m employees.

The first survey was conducted between 17-19 March.

The purpose of both surveys was to gain insight into decisions about pay and benefits being taken by employers in this unprecedented time.