With millennium night just ten weeks away, the nation's insurers are finalising how they will provide staffing cover over the New Year period.

The most novel approach comes from CGU which is to pay all of its 400 plus staff working over the New Year their normal rate plus a "commitment fee".

"It doesn't matter how senior they are. Everyone will be paid the same," said a spokesman.

He said the gesture was in recognition that no matter how humble an employee's role in the organisation everyone valued their time off equally. And the company appreciated that.

He declined to say just how lucrative the commitment fee would be but said: "It is not ungenerous."

Over at Royal & SunAlliance (RSA) an estimated 360 people will work shifts between New Year's Eve and January 3.

"We're trying to give everyone shifts of four hours or eight hours so no one is asked to work an unreasonable amount," said a spokesman.

Staff stand to get up to three times normal hourly rates plus a bonus of £250. The deal had been negotiated with unions after a trawl of other companies in the financial services industry.

Norwich Union said it was also paying generous sums to staff who worked along with a disturbance allowance.

A spokesman for Axa Insurance said the company was still working on the details but an announcement was imminent.