Explanatory Memorandum

Pensions (No. 2) Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

2008 CHAPTER 13

15 December 2008

Commentary on Sections

PART 1 – Pension Scheme Membership for Jobholders

CHAPTER 1 – Employers’ Duties
Section 26: Quality requirement: UK personal pension schemes

Section 26 provides the conditions which a United Kingdom personal pension scheme must meet in order to satisfy the quality requirement.  In order to qualify, personal pension schemes must only provide money purchase benefits (subsection (3)). The employer must be required to contribute at least 3% of qualifying earnings (subsection (4)) and the jobholder must be required to make up any shortfall in contributions up to a contributions total of 8% (to include 1% tax relief) of qualifying earnings in the pay reference period (subsections (5) and (6)). There will need to be agreements between the scheme, the employer and the jobholder confirming the contributions required. The employer must be required to pass over contributions to the scheme on the basis of direct payment arrangements within the meaning of section 107A of the Pension Schemes (Northern Ireland) Act 1993 (subsection (7)).

As with money purchase schemes (section 20) there is also a provision to alter contribution levels should the repeal of contracting-out for money purchase schemes not have occurred by the time these duties commence.

Subsection (9) contains a regulation-making power that allows the Department to set an amount below which trustees and employers could choose to decline to accept contributions. This could be used, for example, to enable schemes to not have to deal with minor amounts of contributions which are uneconomic to administer.