Senior Associate Nigel Jones comments in Pensions Expert on the Pension Ombudsman’s decision to award Police Scotland employee £2,000
Lawyers have cautioned employers to keep their members fully informed of any pension benefit changes, after the Pensions Ombudsman awarded a Police Scotland employee £2,000.
A determination by Anthony Arter on January 29 this year found that Mr N had been caused severe distress and inconvenience by a failure to notify him that the late retirement factors applicable to the Lothian Pension Fund were to be amended from June 24 2017, adversely affecting his pension.
The police force must also pay him arrears of the pension he would have been entitled to if he had elected to draw it from June 23 2017, within 14 days of the Scottish Public Pension Authority providing the relevant calculation.
The ombudsman also highlighted Police Scotland’s “failure to respond to the adjudicator’s opinion within the agreed timescale, and the repeated failure to respond to enquiries”.
Nigel Jones commented:
“The importance of drawing the information to the attention of potentially affected members was highlighted to the employer [in a circular], and in fact it was instructed to communicate the information as soon as possible. The ombudsman also highlighted Police Scotland’s “failure to respond to the adjudicator’s opinion within the agreed timescale, and the repeated failure to respond to enquiries.”
“Against that backdrop the failure is that much more surprising, and it is difficult to see how the Pensions Ombudsman could have reached a different conclusion.”
Mr Jones warned employers not to rely on a House of Lords decision establishing the very limited duty owed by employers to inform their employees about their pension benefits, telling them “to take care to discharge any obligation placed on them concerning the provision of information to scheme members.”
“If they do bet on the Scally judgment, sometimes seen as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card, employers “risk potentially significant costs and the negative publicity that goes hand in hand with an adverse Pensions Ombudsman finding.”
“Failure to deal with member complaints seriously and in a timely manner will be an aggravating factor when the Pensions Ombudsman determines awards for non-financial injustice.”
Read Nigel’s comments in Pensions Expert.
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