Re-employment, Secondment, Redundancy, Emergency Volunteer Leave and Reserve Forces Service Leave

Deferred and pensioner Scheme members who return to work in Local Government or are offered contracts of employment with the NHS as emergency staff will have access to the appropriate pension scheme e.g. LGPS (NI) Scheme for Local Government and the NHS Scheme for the NHS. If they are issued with an NHS Voluntary Agreement, it does not constitute an employment contract and they will not have access to the NHS pension scheme.

If any Scheme member is seconded to the NHS as emergency staff, then their pension benefits continue on the same basis as before the secondment on the assumption that pension contributions continue to be paid by the employer and employee.

Yes. There is nothing to prevent a pensioner or deferred member being re-employed. They should be automatically re-entered into the Scheme from the first day of employment, unless the contract is for less than three months. NILGOSC should be notified of the ‘new’ member in the normal way.

Where the contract is for less than three months, the employee is also enrolled:

  • when the contract is extended beyond three months or, if earlier,
  • if they ask to join the scheme
  • or if they hit their automatic enrolment or automatic re-enrolment date (and are an eligible jobholder under the AE legislation).

For the majority of pensioners there is no change to their existing pension payment because of the new pensionable earnings. However, a few retired Scheme members who are in receipt of additional compensatory pensions may have to have the compensatory pension reduced – they must advise NILGOSC immediately should they become re-employed.

Section 5.6 of the Employers’ Guide sets out the administration process for those on Reserve Forces Service leave. There are no changes to this procedure.

Emergency Volunteer Leave (EVL) relates to a new volunteering scheme that allows employees to take unpaid statutory emergency voluntary leave to volunteer in health and social care authorities. If a member takes EVL then their Scheme pension benefits continue to build up as though they were working normally. The member pays contributions on the actual pay, if any, that they receive from their employer and the employer pays contributions to the Scheme based on the Assumed Pensionable Pay (APP). Effectively EVL is treated the same as Ordinary Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Leave. Employers may wish to refer to section 5.2 of the Employers’ Guide regarding Relevant child-related absences.

If a member is made redundant and aged 55 or over their pension is payable immediately and unreduced because of early payment. The cost of paying this pension early is charged to the employer as a strain cost and immediate payment is due.
If the member is made redundant and under age 55, their pension benefits are deferred and payable from their normal retirement age. There is no strain cost to the employer as the pension is not payable. Members can choose to have their pension brought into payment earlier (from they reach age 55) or later than their normal retirement age. The pensions will either be reduced in the case of early payment or increased for late payment in accordance with Government Actuary Department guidance.

Up until 17 April 2022, if an employer authorises unpaid leave for less than 30 consecutive days, employee and employer pension contributions are paid to cover the period of absence. The member’s pension will be unaffected.
If the absence is for longer than 30 consecutive days, pension contributions are made for the first 30 days of the absence only. After this the member will not build up any pension for the period unless they choose to pay Additional Pension Contributions (APCs) to purchase the amount of lost pension. If a member chooses to pay APCs and they make their election within 30 days of returning to work, the cost is split between the member and employer.

From 18 April 2022, the rules were amended to say that contributions are only payable for the first 30 consecutive days of absence. Where the absence continues beyond 30 days then no contributions are payable (even for the first 30 days) other than the member wishes to cover the period on their return to work.

More information on unpaid leave is in section 5.3 of the Employer Guide.