Here is our brief weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes, which you might have missed, with links for further information.
David Fairs, Executive Director of Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice, has responded to suggestions in the media that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) should withdraw and re-think its consultation on the defined benefit funding code in light of current economic conditions. In his blog, Mr Fairs emphasises that integrated risk management is needed now more than ever and that the scope of the consultation, which focuses on the principles that should form a sound and resilient funding framework, is still relevant.
TPR has updated its COVID-19 guidance for trustees on defined contribution (DC) scheme management and investment to include a section on member transfers. TPR advises that trustees should continue to process member requests but be aware of the increased threat of pension scams, carry out due diligence on the transfer and refer to recently issued guidance on communicating to members during the pandemic. TPR highlights the importance of processing transfers within a reasonable time frame and expects trustees to monitor transfer activity and work with the scheme administrator if there are issues with meeting demand (note that TPR has produced guidance on working effectively with administrators at the present time). Finally, TPR advises trustees of hybrid schemes to consider how members with both defined benefit (DB) and DC benefits will be affected if a temporary transfer suspension is applied to the DB benefits in the scheme, and flags that members should be informed if this is happening.
The Financial Conduct Authority has issued a statement on how firms should handle post and paper documents during the COVID-19 pandemic, in view of recent postal delays and difficulties with cashing cheques. This reflects wider concerns within the pensions industry about sending time critical communications and documents by post. Trustees, employers and pension providers should plan ahead to minimise any disadvantage to pension scheme members caused by postal service disruption within the UK and abroad.
You are invited to register for our “Pension Schemes – Back to the Future” webinar on 2 June which will feature essential legal issues and developments affecting “business as usual” for employers, trustees and pensions professionals.
COVID-19 for Business
So far over 200 UK businesses have completed our unlocking the lockdown self-assessment tool. Almost a quarter of respondents have not yet taken any action to notify pensions administrators of changes that may impact benefits provided by their DB pension scheme (such as changes to pay, contributions or working hours). The tool takes around 10 minutes to complete and respondents receive a summary mapping out the factors they have not yet considered, which can be reviewed alongside contingency plans, business objectives and critical activities.
If you would like specific advice on any of these issues, or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.