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Energy Act 2004

Schedule 8: Pensions

494.This Schedule is given effect by section 46 and is divided into five parts:

  • Part 1 sets out definitions including the pension schemes to which it applies.

  • Part 2 enables the NDA to modify, by direction, a relevant pension scheme (for example the BNFL group scheme) firstly to extend the groups of persons who can participate in the scheme to include employees and directors or other officers of an employer which has received employees by nuclear transfer scheme; and secondly to give NDA a role in administering the scheme. Modifications can only be made following consultation with the scheme trustees and employees’ representatives. The NDA is not permitted to modify the schemes in such a way as to deprive members of their accrued rights. It is not the intention to use these statutory powers to alter the pensions of existing members of the BNFL Group scheme from a final salary scheme to a defined contribution scheme.

  • Part 3 deals with the application of the UKAEA scheme to the employees who are transferred to a ‘relevant public sector employer’. ‘Relevant public sector employer’ is defined in paragraph 1 of the Schedule to include UKAEA, NDA, or a ‘publicly controlled company’. ‘Publicly controlled company’ is in turn defined in section 50, and in general terms covers companies in which the majority of the voting rights are held by a public sector body. The effect of Part 3 is that where employees of BNFL and UKAEA are transferred to a relevant public sector employer, for NDA purposes, they will be entitled to retain their membership of the scheme or their eligibility or potential eligibility to become members. In relation to a relevant public sector employer that is a publicly controlled company, its employees cease to be entitled to membership of the UKAEA scheme when such a company ceases to be publicly controlled. Paragraphs 5 to 7 give the Secretary of State powers to direct the UKAEA to amend the rules of the scheme. Paragraph 8 provides for payments to the UKAEA by relevant public sector employers in order to meet their obligations as participating employers under the rules of the scheme. In the event of the parties not being able to reach agreement, the Secretary of State may determine the payments involved.

  • Part 4 deals with the position where employees are transferred for NDA purposes, whether by nuclear transfer scheme or otherwise, and they are required to leave their current pension scheme by reason of that transfer. Part 4 applies both to transfers from the public to private sector, and to transfers within the private sector, for example from one management contractor to another.

495.Paragraph 9 sets out in detail the circumstances in which employees are protected upon transfers for NDA purposes. It includes transitional provision to ensure that employees are protected during the initial stages of restructuring. It does this by disapplying the employment condition for the first transfer of employees (as many will not have had the chance to work on NDA related matters for six months), and by ensuring that employees are protected if they are transferred for a second or third time within a period of six months from their first transfer. Paragraph 9(3)(b) also makes it clear that employees’ pensions are protected under Schedule 8 when their employment is not transferred but ownership of their employer is transferred (for example when a new site management contractor takes ownership of a site licensee company).

496.Paragraph 10 relates to situations arising from the making of transfer schemes. Paragraph 11 relates to transfers made by other arrangements. In each case the effect is that the employees concerned are entitled to membership of an alternative scheme offering benefits which, taking into account other benefits offered by the new employer, are no less favourable than the provisions of the scheme of which the employees were originally members. In other words, if an employee is transferred on a number of occasions, and becomes a member of a number of different pension schemes as a result of those transfers, the test to be applied upon each transfer is whether the new pension scheme being offered is no less favourable (overall) than the original pension scheme of which he was a member. Where employees are transferred by virtue of a transfer scheme the Schedule places a duty on the Secretary of State, to satisfy himself (before the transfer scheme comes into force) that the new pension scheme (taken as a whole) meets this requirement. In other cases, the same duty applies to the NDA. In all cases prior consultation is required. In practice, we anticipate that the alternative pension scheme will be that established by the NDA under its powers in section 8(1)(a) (‘NDA pension scheme’).

497.Paragraph 12 enables the NDA and Secretary of State to modify the NDA pension scheme in order to meet the requirements set out in previous paragraphs of Part 4. Before the Secretary of State makes a modification he must consult the NDA and employees’ representatives. Before the NDA makes a modification it must consult employees’ representatives and obtain the consent of the Secretary of State.

498.Part 5 enables the UKAEA pension scheme to apply to employees of designated BNFL companies, while such companies are publicly controlled.

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