Direction Bodies

General information in respect of an NHS Pension "Direction" and "Determination"

What is a Direction?

An NHS Pension Direction is a legal document drafted under powers conferred within Section 7 of the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1967. It is a means whereby "protected" members of the 1995 and 2008 sections of NHS Superannuation Scheme (Scotland) members moving to a non-NHS employer that is carrying out health services can retain membership of the scheme.

What is a Determination?

An NHS Pension Determination is a legal document drafted under powers conferred within Section 25 of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. It is a means whereby members of the 2015 Pension Scheme (Scotland) moving to a non-NHS employer that is carrying out health services can retain membership of the scheme.

Who can offer Direction/Determination employment?

Employers who provide health care services may in certain circumstances provide for staff, who have previously been members of the NHS pension scheme, to remain in that scheme even though the employer is not an NHS employer. This is possible under the Direction/Determination arrangement. Examples of those types of employers which might be eligible are hospices, community care providers, university medical schools and an employer who has taken on the work of the NHS and whose employees have transferred under TUPE to that organisation.

If an employer considers that allowing staff to be in the NHS scheme is necessary to retaining and or recruiting staff they should make an application to SPPA by writing to the Director of Policy. Directions and Determinations allow those who join the new employer to remain in the NHS Pension Scheme if they previously had a right to be in the scheme within the last 12 months and request to rejoin within three months of starting work with the new employer.

Employers agreeing to hold Direction/Determination body status must ensure that they comply with the scheme regulations, SPPA administrative arrangements and pay the required pension contributions by 19th day of the month after which they are collected from the member. This is a legal obligation.

The Direction/Determination will be limited to named individuals listed in the accompanying schedules and employers are required to check eligibility of their employees with SPPA before including them in the scheme. The Direction/Determination may also set out restrictions e.g. the class of people to whom they apply e.g. medical professionals or nurses only. All employees of Direction/Determination employers are classed as officers in the 1995/2008 scheme.

How do I apply for Direction/Determination Status?

Employers who wish to be considered should write to the Director of Policy at the address below:

The Director of Policy

Scottish Public Pensions Agency

7 Tweedside Park




What Information do I need to provide to be considered for Direction/Determination status employer?

You will need to supply the following information relevant to the kind of organisation that you are.

  • Full title of your organisation.
  • Whether the organisation is in the voluntary sector and is a "not for profit" organisation (if applicable, provide the registered charity number).
  • The aims and objectives of the organisation and the latest annual report
  • Method of funding for the organisation.
  • Details of the pension scheme in place.
  • Details of any links with the NHS or other public sector services.
  • The names, national insurance numbers and job titles of the staff to be employed under the Direction/Determination.

If the Direction/Determination is to cover staff who have moved employment due to a TUPE transfer then we require:

  • The date the transfer will take place.
  • The details of all staff involved
  • Whether it falls under PPP
  • Whether the jobs transferred to the new organisation will require access to the NHS scheme when the current job holder leaves.
  • How the project or transfer would be affected if the application was rejected.
  • Whether there is already alternative pension provision in place for the organisation's existing staff.
  • Whether the organisation would face recruitment difficulties if the NHS Pension Scheme were not offered to new recruits and the effect that this would have on the service provided.

What are the costs to the Employer?

The employer pays a contribution based on a percentage of the member's pensionable pay. For the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2019 this is 14.9%. This rate is set by the Scottish Ministers and can change depending on the outcome of the 4 yearly valuations of the scheme by the Scheme Actuary.

What are the costs to the member?

All members under Direction/Determination employers are classed as "officers" in the scheme. Employee's contribution rates vary according to the member's whole time equivalent earnings for the previous year. In cases where the member starts a new employment or is promoted during the year then estimated whole time/ whole year equivalent earnings for the current year are used. Contribution tables are notified to employers by a SPPA circular (usually February) before the start of each financial year and are also available to view on the SPPA Website.

As a Direction/Determination employer can I continue to recruit staff and allow them into the NHS Pension Scheme?

There is no automatic right for employees to be included in the Direction/Determination arrangement. The Direction/Determination will set out the terms under which an individual may be eligible. The minimum requirements are that the employee must have been eligible to join the NHS pension scheme in the 12 months prior to joining the new employer and within three months of starting their new employment apply to join the scheme. Members who are currently covered by a Direction arrangement will automatically transition to the Determination if they are required to join the 2015 scheme.

If the employer is satisfied that the person is eligible form SB115 must be completed and returned to SPPA. Confirmation will then be sent by SPPA of the person's eligibility.

Employers should advise new employees considered to be eligible that they able to join the NHS scheme and issue them with a scheme starter pack at the earliest opportunity. To read more about what employers need to do for new employees, please refer to the employers guide available on the SPPA website. Where it is not clear whether the employee is entitled to scheme membership, employers should deduct contributions meanwhile and seek clarification from SPPA.

As an Established Direction/Determination employer who should I contact at SPPA for information and to inform of any changes?

The team that deal with Direction/Determination employers are the "service team".

Telephone 01896 893000

For all general enquiries please email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Link to Scottish Government Website