Advice line - good news on pensions

Caran Chamberlain reports on a welcome development on the NHS pensions front

One of the positive outcomes of the NHS pensions dispute and subsequent negotiations by the unions, including the CSP, has been protection for the NHS pension rights of outsourced staff as well widened access to the scheme to new starters of independent and other non-NHS providers delivering NHS services.

Under revised Fair Deal guidance published last year health service staff in England have the right to remain in the NHS pension scheme if they are transferred to private providers delivering NHS services.

Prior to this, physiotherapy and other NHS staff transferring into social enterprise companies delivering NHS services could only stay in the NHS scheme if the company applied for permission from the NHS pensions agency.

Independent providers had to offer TUPE-transferred staff a broadly comparable pension, while their NHS pensions were frozen.

Another major change, expected to take effect in April, offers starters with private sector contractors and other non-NHS providers delivering NHS clinical services in England access to the NHS pension scheme.

Under the new rules, non-NHS providers will be free to decide whether to offer NHS pension access. Those employers that opt in can choose from two levels of access.

Tier 1 would require the provider to offer access to all eligible ‘existing NHS pension scheme members’ who had been entitled to participate in the NHS Pension Scheme in the previous 12 months.

Someone who had been employed in an NHS trust in the last 12 months would be included.

Tier 2 would require the provider to offer access to all eligible staff, whether or not they had NHS pension scheme entitlement in the previous 12 months.

As under the New Fair Deal, staff are ‘eligible’ if they are wholly or mainly employed to carry out NHS work.

Access will be opened to staff working under ‘any qualified provider’ contracts, although, due to fluctuating workloads, determining pensionable pay could be complex. We will have to see how this provision works in practice.

Find out more at CSP Pensions:
Caran Chamberlain is a CSP senior negotiating officer

Carin Chamberlain

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