Developments in Employee Benefits law and practice

28 October 2018

Latest PASA guidance on GMP reconciliation

The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has launched its latest round of guidance for Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMPs). The document is designed to facilitate discussion between trustees and their administrator to help bring any remaining GMP reconciliation queries to a conclusion. 

Regulations to implement IORP II 

Regulations have been laid in connection with the implementation of the second EU Directive on Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision – 
The Occupational Pension Schemes (Governance) (Amendment) Regulations (2018/1103)
The Occupational Pension Schemes (Cross-Border Activities) (Amendment) Regulations (2018/1102)

A JLT Alert on the Regulations is available.

New TPR Comms guidance 

A Guide to Communicating and Reporting, to be read alongside the Pensions Regulator DC code of practice no. 13 has been issued and can be downloaded here

OPS and PPS (EU Exit) Regulations 

The draft Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 have been laid before Parliament. These Regulations are made in exercise of the powers conferred by section 8(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively and other deficiencies arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

High Court rules that GMPs must be equalised

The High Court has ruled that Lloyds Banking Group must amend its three defined benefit (DB) pension schemes in order to equalise Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMPs) for men and women. 
This is a landmark ruling, which could cost Lloyds around £150m. Around 230,000 female members of the Bank's schemes are expected to be impacted because they joined between 1978 and 1997 and accrued GMPs in lieu of State pension. 
Moreover, total costs across all DB schemes that have members with GMPs could be around £20 billion.

A JLT Alert on the case is available.

Court hands recruitment firm largest fine and first custodial sentences to follow a TPR prosecution 

A national recruitment agency, its directors and senior staff have been ordered to pay more than £280,000 for plotting to illegally opt workers out of their pension scheme.

The prosecution of Derby-based Workchain Ltd and its staff has led to the largest fine and first custodial sentences for a case brought by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Workchain owners and directors Phil Tong and Adam Hinkley encouraged five senior staff at the company to get the workers out of the scheme so the company could avoid making pension payments on their behalf.

Financial controller Hannah Armson, HR and compliance officer Lisa Neal and branch managers Martin West, Robert Tomlinson and Andrew Thorpe then worked together to opt workers out of the NEST pension scheme.

Neal, West, Tomlinson and Thorpe phoned NEST posing as their temporary workers to get the employees’ account ID numbers. They then logged onto NEST’s online system and opted the temporary workers out of their pension scheme.

Accessing the system by posing as workers is contrary to the terms of use of the system, which requires employees to opt out themselves, and is an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

However after NEST became suspicious about a number of the calls from Workchain, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) examined recordings of the conversations. These captured the moments the defendants secured the NEST ID numbers of multiple workers.

The employer, the directors and five senior staff all pleaded guilty to computer misuse offences after TPR prosecuted them.

At Derby Crown Court, Judge Nirmal Shant QC told the defendants their “co-ordinated effort” had been an “attempt to steal a march” on their competitors.

She said: “This amounted to a deliberate subversion of the automatic enrolment process. It was a deliberate attack on the integrity of the electronic systems of NEST.”

Judge Shant ordered Workchain (formerly known as Smart Recruitment UK Ltd) to pay a £200,000 fine and £60,930 costs. Tong and Hinkley were each given a four-month prison sentence suspended for two years and were ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and to pay £11,250 costs. Armson was given a two-month prison sentence suspended for two years, a five-month overnight curfew and was ordered to pay £1,500 costs. Neal was given a two-month prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to do 200 hours of community service and to pay £1,500 costs. West, Tomlinson and Thorpe were each given a two year community order and were ordered to do 150 hours of community service and to pay £500 costs.

Contact:

John W. Wilson LLB(Hons) FPMI ACII, Head of Research| Email: john_wilson@jltgroup.com