Pension Reform – Legislative Update
The General Scheme of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2017 contains key measures designed to increase protections for members of defined benefit occupational pension schemes. The Bill requires employers who sponsor DB schemes – whether or not those schemes are in deficit – to give 12 months’ notice of their intention to cease contributions. For a scheme in deficit, the employer and trustees are required to enter into discussions to agree a funding proposal before the 12 month period expires. Secondly, the Bill introduces a time limit of six months, from the date of the actuarial funding certificate, for trustees of a DB scheme which is in deficit to submit a funding proposal to the Pensions Authority. The Bill provides powers to the Pensions Authority to determine a schedule of contributions that will restore DB pension schemes, which do not satisfy the funding standard or funding standard reserve, to an adequate funding position, in circumstances where a funding proposal has not been agreed.
The Bill also includes provisions affecting same-sex couples and will seek to ensure that same sex spouses and civil partners of members of occupational pension schemes will be able to obtain, in certain circumstances, a spouse’s pension. This equal treatment proposal aims to provide that same-sex couples enjoy the same rights and entitlements in this area as any other married couples do.