While it might not be something we think about in our younger years, when you reach retirement, your pension becomes perhaps the single most important investment of your life.
Most individuals participate in a workplace pension scheme that will take care of their needs in their later years, but those schemes can face problems.
Here, we take a look at what to do if you ever find yourself in the stressful situation of finding out that payments haven’t been made into your scheme.
What Is A Workplace Pension Scheme?
In almost all situations, an employer has a legal duty to enroll all of their workers in a workplace pension scheme. As a part of this scheme, three parties have to pay into it: the employee, the employer, and the government.
They’re sometimes called occupational or company pensions in addition to workplace pensions, but these terms generally all refer to the same thing.
When you retire from your job, that scheme will then pay you an income for the rest of your life, although there are sometimes opportunities to withdraw a fixed sum as well.
What To Do If Payments Aren’t Made
Luckily, there are stringent laws surrounding pensions. If you are an employee at a company, are over 22 years old and earn over £10,000 per year, your employer is likely breaking the law if they have not:
- Offered a workplace pension
- Paid the agreed amount into that pension
- Taken your contribution from your wages
- Provided you the opportunity to opt out of the pension
- Ensured that you are paid when you retire
If you are concerned about any of the above, there are three main steps that you can take next:
Contact Your Employer
First of all, it’s a good idea to contact your employer. It’s possible that they’ve made a genuine error and are entirely willing to sort it out amicably. Contacting your employer first can save a lot of hassle and expedite the process compared to going the legal route.
Contact A Solicitor
Unfortunately, it’s not always the case that your employer will be willing to sort things out without legal pressure. If this is the case, it is likely necessary to contact an employment solicitor if you at all feel like you need support obtaining what you are owed.
Your solicitor can advise you on pension regulations, informing you on your rights with regards to your workplace pension scheme.
They can contact your employer and alert them to the legal severity of the situation; if necessary, your solicitors can then take your employer to court, forcing any back payments and ensuring that you receive the pension benefits that you are legally entitled to.
Report Your Employer To The Government Pension Regulator
Another step that you can take if you suspect that your workplace pension scheme is not being run properly is to report it. The government pension regulator has a whistleblowing service that allows employees to report any pension related issues.
Issues can be reported in three different ways. You can call 0345 600 7060 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding English public holidays. If calling outside of these times, you can also leave a voicemail.
You can also send an email detailing your concerns to [email protected], or send a letter to The Information Team, The Pensions Regulator, Napier House, Trafalgar Place, Brighton, BN1 4DW.
If you’re concerned about any repercussions from your employer as a result of reporting them, you can do so in an anonymous manner. This way, any information you provide will be treated as sensitive and your identity will be protected.
Depending on the investigation, the pension investigator may require additional information that supports your case.
When To Act
While you might be anxious to take action as soon as possible, it’s sometimes better to wait a little while. Legally, your employer has 90 days after the contribution due date to make a payment. After this time is up, they will be in breach of their legal duties and may face action from The Pensions Regulator.
If you have a good relationship with your employer, it might be a good idea to alert them of any late payments before this time frame is up.
It’s possible that they’ve made a genuine mistake and this way, they can avoid breaching their legal duties and you can avoid having to go through a potentially prolonged legal process.