Employment and Pensions Law (22 January - 5 February)

Feature of the Fortnight

The overhaul of pensions schemes and the perilous collapse of the likes of Carillion’s have been prolific in the news recently. The most recent scandal to emerge is that of Barclays bank, and the scrutiny they face over how they are dealing with their pensions scheme. As detailed by Money Marketing, following a reshuffle in 2012, where defined benefit (DB) schemes were replaced with defined contribution (DC), the bank created a ‘ring fenced retail and investment wing’ in order to protect certain aspects that cannot be allowed to fail.

However, Money Marketing cite the fact that the pensions fund is being put into the investment division, which has caused concern over their security and has led to Frank Field (work and pensions committee chairman) to step in. The FT Adviser has reported that numerous members of the Barclays DB pension fund have ‘presented objections in court’ over the matter, and the court will be scrutinising the current plans as an extra layer of protection. The outcome of this scrutiny is not yet clear.

Employment News

Court of Appeal rejects challenge over former LLP member's 'whistleblower' claim

The Law Society Gazette – 29 January

Wilsons Solicitors LLP of Salisbury is being sued for £3.4m as solicitor, Andrew Roberts, was ‘constructively dismissed’. Following a four-year disagreement between the firm and Roberts, the firm’s appeal against the whistleblower’s claim was dismissed, and the court ordered Wilsons Solicitors to pay Roberts £15,000.

Surprise at low uptake of employment tribunal refunds

People Management – 23 January

Following the abolition of employment tribunal fees in July 2017, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published figures detailing the initial uptake on refunds. The refund scheme was launched in October of last year and the government has so far paid out just over £1.8 million to the 2,151 claimants that have applied. Current statistics are much lower than originally anticipated, although it is expected that this will pick up.

Half of transgender employees hide identity at work for fear of discrimination

People Management – 22 January

A survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Stonewall has revealed that half of transgender employees disguise that they are LGBT in the workplace for fear of discrimination. Of the 870 transgender respondents, one in eight reported being attacked physically by customers or colleagues. The charity has now called for a zero-tolerance policy on transphobic discrimination.

Pensions News

Military wives hit out at pension changes that leave them short-changed

iNews – 2 February

The new state pension, which was introduced in April 2016, has left former military wives short-changed on their pensions. Credits have been introduced for military spouses reaching retirement age after 6 April 2016, but those who reached it before are missing out.

Royal Mail strikes deal with union for CDC scheme

IPE – 1 February

Royal Mail has now made a deal with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and may be the first UK company to introduce a collective defined contribution (CDC) scheme. If the two companies can get the government to make the necessary changes to allow the CDC scheme to take place, Royal Mail will contribute 13.6% into a pension fund, whilst workers will contribute 6% of their pensionable pay.

Taxpayers clawback half a billion pounds from HMRC

Ft Adviser – 31 January

Pensioners have been hit one of the hardest after it was revealed that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have had to give back £493 million since April 2015 after consistently over charging on tax. Income tax on pension withdrawals is one out of two areas where HMRC have had to give back money.

Gender gap: Women end up with half the pension of men by age 50

Professional Adviser – 30 January

A recent study by Aegon has found that women accumulate half of the pension that their male counterparts do by the time they turn 50. Due to factors such as the gender pay gap and taking time off to raise children, women end up with an average of £56,000 compared to the £112,000 saved by men.

Sleepwalking into a scandal over pensions

Money Week – 26 January

Despite warnings from the government, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has ‘ruled out a ban on transfers out of final-salary pension schemes’. Currently, anyone wanting to transfer out of a defined benefit (DB) scheme worth over £30,000 must seek financial advice, however many advisers are unwilling to advise on this, fearing another backlash. MPs have warned that this decision may lead to another mis-selling scandal.

 

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