Occupational Pension Schemes
Occupational pension schemes are set up by employers to provide pensions and life assurance benefits for employees. The trustees of a pension scheme are responsible for managing the assets and we can help advise the Trustees the best way to fulfill their obligations. The services we can offer are;
- Accounts Preparation
- Tax Compliance
Occupational Pension Schemes: Trustees’ Responsibilities
Many employers offer their staff an opportunity to save for their retirement through an occupational (or company) pension scheme.
Those employees who join the scheme need to have confidence that the scheme is being well run.
The role of pension scheme trustees is very important in ensuring that the scheme is run honestly and efficiently and in the best interests of the members.
We outline in this factsheet the main responsibilities of occupational pension scheme trustees.
The Pensions Act 1995 (the Act) brought about a number of major changes to the way occupational pension schemes are run. The 2004 Pensions Act brought about further change and introduced, in April 2005, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) as the UK regulator of work-based pension schemes.
TPR has an important role in the pension sector. Its objectives are to:
TPR has two core activities that underpin its regulatory approach:
In fulfilling its role, TPR produces important guidance for those involved with pension schemes including trustees as well as auditors and actuaries. This guidance is available from TPR’s website (www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk).
Pension scheme classification
Employers can help promote retirement benefits for their employees in a number of ways including:
Group personal pension schemes and stakeholder schemes are personal plans in individual member’s names, where the employer simply acts as an administrator. There are no accounting or audit requirements for these types of schemes.
An occupational pension is an arrangement an employer uses to provide benefits for their employees when they leave or retire.
There are two main types of occupational pension scheme in the UK:
Whatever the type of scheme, it will usually have trustees.
The role of trustees
Most company pension schemes in the UK are set up as trusts. There are two main reasons for this:
A trustee is a person or company, acting separately from an employer, who holds assets for the beneficiaries of the pension scheme. Trustees are responsible for ensuring that the pension scheme is run properly and that members’ benefits are secure.
In fulfilling their role, trustees must be aware of their legal duties and responsibilities. From April 2006 the law requires trustees to have knowledge and understanding of, amongst other things, the law relating to pensions and trusts, the funding of pension schemes and the investment of scheme assets.
The law also requires trustees to be familiar with:
A code of practice has been issued by TPR explaining what trustees need to do in order to comply with the law in this area. Trustees should arrange appropriate training as soon as they are appointed and should then continue with their learning to keep their knowledge up to date. New trustees have six months from their appointment date to comply with this requirement.
Trustees’ duties and responsibilities
Trustees have a number of very important duties and responsibilities, which include:
In addition to these general duties, trustees also have a number of specific duties and tasks that they must carry out. The main tasks are to ensure the following happen.
Financial records and requirements
Pension scheme records
Registration, the scheme return and collecting the levy
Reporting to TRP
Where a breach of law takes place and it is likely to be materially significant to TPR, trustees and indeed others involved in running the scheme have a legal duty to report the breach to the regulator. Code of practice 01, ‘Reporting breaches of the law’ provides guidance on the factors that should be considered when deciding to make a report.
In addition, trustees also have to notify TPR when particular scheme-related events happen. These are known as ‘notifiable events’, also the subject of a code of practice.
The annual report
The trustees of most schemes must make an annual report available within seven months of the scheme year end. The report usually includes:
If something does go wrong with the pension scheme, trustees may be held personally liable for any loss caused as a result of a breach of trust. This could happen when, for example:
The rules of the pension scheme might protect trustees from personal liability for a loss caused by breach of trust, except where it is due to their own actual fraud. In some cases, the employer may provide indemnity insurance for the trustees.
How we can help
We would be pleased to discuss your role as a company pension scheme trustee in more detail. We are also able to advise on the accounting and audit requirements of your scheme.