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Ballot briefing

With an industrial-action ballot under way, the CSP answers more of your questions about voting and pensions

The ballot and action

When and how will I get my ballot paper?
The ballot opened on 31 October and closes at midday on 14 November. You should receive your ballot paper in the post within a day or two of the ballot opening and it will be sent to whatever address you are registered at on the CSP’s database.

The envelope will include the ballot paper itself, a covering letter with information about the current pensions position and a pre-paid envelope already addressed to the independent balloting organisation (Electoral Reform Services) that is running the ballot for us.

You just need to indicate Yes or No on the ballot paper and make sure it is back in the post in plenty of time to reach ERS by midday on 14 November.

Can CSP members take part in industrial action if they didn’t vote?
Yes. In the situation where CSP members as a whole have voted Yes and the day of strike action on 30 November is going ahead, the CSP will notify employers that all members working for that organisation are being called to take part in the action on the 30th.

Whether or not any individual member strikes is a matter for them, but we hope that members will support the majority decision of the ballot.

Do bank staff have the same protection from unfair dismissal for taking industrial action as any other employees?
Yes. Bank staff who are CSP members and have been afforded the opportunity to take part in the ballot are protected from unfair dismissal, just like any other employee taking part.

Will taking strike action breach regulatory and professional codes?
The Health Professions Council has not issued a specific statement regarding this. However the Nursing and Midwifery Council has, and it confirms the right to support and take strike action. Further advice in this area is being prepared by the CSP

Proposed changes

What are the differences between the Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) proposals and the current 1995 and 2008 sections of the NHS Pension Scheme?
The main differences are:

  • In both 1995 and 2008 sections of the NHS pension scheme, your pension is determined by your final salary.
  • In the 1995 section of the NHS pension scheme, the best year of the last three years of pensionable earnings prior to retiremen
  • is taken into account when calculating pension entitlements.
  • In the 2008 section of the NHS pension scheme, the average of the best consecutive three years pensionable pay in the 10
  • years prior to retirement is used to calculate pension entitlements.
  • But in a CARE scheme your pension is calculated using a proportion of each year’s pensionable earnings and based on an average of what you have earned during your career, taking account of the time you spend in lower pay bands at the start of your working life.

I currently have protected Special Class Status under the 1995 section of the NHS pension scheme. Will I lose this if we transfer to a CARE scheme?
Special Class Status, which is the right to retire on full pension from 55, is a closed category of the 1995 section of the scheme.

The government’s proposals on rights that people have already accrued are that they should be protected up to the point when the new scheme is introduced. Pension rights for the portion of someone’s working life that is after the new scheme is introduced will be on the new terms.

If my state pension age is currently due to be 67, then under the government’s proposals at what age could I take my NHS pension?
As the government is proposing an automatic link between the two pension ages, you wouldn’t be able to draw your full NHS pension until you are 67.

What if my pension age is 67 but I still want to retire and take my NHS pension at 65?
You could leave and draw your pension at 65. However, for each year prior to the scheme’s pension age (in this case, 67) the pension you get will be subject to an “actuarial reduction” of 4-6 per cent.

Therefore, if the age at which you can get your full pension is 67 and you want to take it at 65, the pension you get will be reduced by up to 8-12 per cent.

When would CARE come in and replace the current NHS pension provisions?
The government’s plan is for legislation to be enacted by parliament in the 2012-13 session and for the new scheme to be in place by the end of the parliament in 2015.  

What if any, are the proposed alternatives to the CARE scheme?
The government has not put forward any alternatives to the proposed move to CARE.

myth-busting

Is the current scheme affordable and sustainable in the long run?
Yes. The National Audit Office, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the TUC, the CSP and other unions consider the NHS pension to be not only affordable now but also sustainable in the long run.

For more information see information on CSP pensions pages

www.csp.org.uk/news/2010/03/16/nhs-pension-scheme-affordable-sustainable and the Myths and Realities in the Pension Briefings section of the TUC website at www.tuc.org.uk fl

stay up to date

For a complete list of Q&As see www.csp.org.uk/pensions





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