Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 13:49
SECTION 3: JOINING AND REJOINING THE SCHEME
The NHS Superannuation Scheme (Scotland) (NHSSSS) provides a wide package of pension benefits and all eligible employer's must be automatically enrolled into the scheme from the first day of employment.
On appointment employers must provide all new staff with a copy of the relevant Scheme Members Guide and a copy of the leaflet Joining the National Health Service Superannuation Scheme (Scotland). These provide the member with the benefits of the scheme and allows them to make an informed decision about continuing their membership.
Most NHS employees will be eligible to join the scheme and no medical examination is required. Employees are automatically brought into the scheme on commencing employment. Form 'Opt Out' must be completed if the employee does not wish to remain in the scheme. This is known as 'opting out'. A member may opt out of the scheme at any time after they have been automatically enrolled.
NHS employees will be enrolled from age 16 until age 75, except for the Special Classes/Mental Health Officers within the 1995 section who must stop contributing at age 65.
There is no minimum number of hours that can be pensionable in the NHSSS(S). All bank workers must be made pensionable on every occasion they work unless they have made it known that they do not wish to join the scheme, or if they have whole time pensionable employment elsewhere in the NHS.
It has been agreed with Scottish NHS employers that as long as bank workers are provided with the agreed notice regarding scheme membership, there is no requirement to remove bank workers from the scheme.
The maximum numbers of hours that can be pensionable in the NHSSS(S) are the normal whole-time hours for the relevant job.
If an employee works less than the normal whole time hours for the job, any additional hours worked, between the contracted hours worked and the normal whole-time hours for the job, are pensionable. Overtime payments for hours worked in excess of whole time hours are non pensionable.
Where there is no acknowledged whole time hours figure for the job, pension administrators will assume that 37.5 hours per week are pensionable.
If an employee has 2 or more jobs which together will exceed whole time, the excess posts or hours should be made non pensionable according to the following rules:
- whole-time posts take first priority,
- then the part-time post with the highest hourly rate takes next priority, then,
- posts with identical hourly rates should be controlled to ensure they do not exceed the whole time equivalent hours.
Rejoining after Retirement
Generally former scheme members who have received their NHSSS(S) retirement benefits cannot rejoin the scheme. The exceptions are listed below:
- 1995 section - former members, who retired on Ill Health grounds, and at the time of rejoining, are under age 50.
- 2008 section - members who have retired on Ill Health grounds and are in receipt of a lower tier ill health pension may return to pensionable employment.
- members who have retired after 1 April 2008 but before 1 October 2009 from the 1995 section may be eligible, to join the 2008 section of the NHSSS(S) if at least 2 years have elapsed since their retirement (link to eligibility section).
- members who chose to transfer to the 2008 section during the Choice Exercise may be able to return to 2008 section.
- for both 1995 section and 2008 section members with more than one pensionable post in the scheme who only took redundancy benefits for the post in which they were actually made redundant. (Section 16(4) of the Agenda For Change Agreement refers).
If there is any doubt as to whether a re-employed pensioner is eligible to join the 1995 or 2008 sections of the scheme employers should contact SPPA who will provide advice on the pensioner's eligibility to rejoin.
Working after Retirement
If a member has been awarded an NHS pension, in some cases it may be possible to continue working in the NHS or take up further employment without affecting their pension benefits .
The pension benefits will not be affected if they return to NHS work after they retire provided:
- they have taken a 24 hour break; and
- at least one calendar month has passed from the date they retired to the date they return to work (jobs in the NHS totalling 16 hours or less a week are ignored for this purpose); and
- they were age 60 or over when they retired; or
- they are receiving a voluntary early retirement or deferred pension, which has been reduced because of being paid before age 60; or
- they are receiving an early but unenhanced retirement pension following redundancy.
However, their tax position may be affected, so in all cases of re-employment the member will need to tell their employer that they have a scheme pension and write to SPPA with full details of their new post and pension payroll reference.
Members who have been in receipt of a pension should be reminded about their responsibility to notify SPPA when taking up re-employment in any capacity (whether superannuable or non-superannuable). Failure to notify the SPPA in a timely manner may mean that pension benefits are overpaid. These would be recovered from the pensioner.
Further information can be obtained in Factsheet: Working after Retirement.
Form NSR01 is SPPA's joiner form, completed by the employer with details of each new member and sent to SPPA to set up an individual computer record of membership. NHS employers who operate the Scottish Standard Payroll System/e-Payroll have starter details transferred automatically to SPPA.
Form NSR01 should be used for all automatically enrolled employees, including trainee Practitioners, Practitioners, and eligible assistants.
Where a Principal Practitioner joins the Scheme and is recorded on more than one medical or dental list, each Health Board should submit starter information to SPPA on form NSR01.
It is most important that SPPA is advised of all the Health Boards on whose list a practitioner is active otherwise the member's superannuation records will be incomplete.
Form NSR01 should be sent to SPPA as soon as possible after the member is automatically enrolled.
SPPA will enter the member into the 2008 section and issue a starter letter which advises them to notify SPPA of previous service. This may allow them to be moved to the 1995 section.
SPPA will acknowledge NSR joiner details by issuing an electronic Starters Report of new starters to the employer as soon as possible. If a report is not received within 3 months of issue of form NSR01 to SPPA, a follow up enquiry should be made to SPPA; this can be done in the form of a member listing. Duplicate joiner details should not be submitted unless requested by SPPA.
Employers should check the Starters Report for notification of SB and employment numbers. This should be updated on to the employee's payroll record.
The SB number, which will remain as the member's superannuation reference number throughout all current and subsequent NHS employments in Scotland, should be quoted on all correspondence and notifications thereafter.
If the SB number is not known or has not been notified, the full surname, forename(s), date of birth, pay reference number and national insurance number must be given in any enquiry or correspondence with SPPA
The report will also notify employers of any current Added Years contracts and advise the % rate that additional contributions should be deducted from that new post.
The report can also be used to verify if a member has Mental Health Officer or Special Class status for that post.
Employers should collate and submit Opt Out forms on a monthly basis.
If an employee remains opted out with the same employer, they will be automatically re-enrolled in to the scheme after 3 years and 3 yearly thereafter.
An application, in writing, should be made to the employer where an employee who has previously opted out of the scheme, now wishes to join or rejoin the scheme. The application should be accepted at any time before retirement unless the applicant is absent for any reason. SPPA will advise if there is any doubt about an employee's right to rejoin the scheme.
Staff employed in GP Practices are also eligible to join the scheme and will be automatically enrolled when they commence employment. Most of the range of benefits are available to them as they are for employees employed directly by the NHS.
However, the following benefits do not apply:
- Premature Retirement;
- Injury Benefits Scheme.
The Starter Letter and Members Guide advises employees that it may be possible to transfer previous pension scheme rights to the NHSSS(S) so that they count when scheme benefits are calculated. All transfers are subject to time limits (see Transfers section 7 for information)
The Rejoining Questionnaire provided with the Starter Letter should be completed and returned to the SPPA to initiate the Transfer In process.
Information in respect of part-time members of the scheme should be submitted in the same way as for whole time members, i.e. via the Standard Payroll System procedures or the appropriate electronic data submission.
If a part-time employee works concurrently with the NHS in Scotland and England, or is in receipt of a pension from the NHS in England and takes up part-time employment in Scotland, SPPA should be notified as soon as possible to determine the superannuation position.
Full-time to Part-time
When members change from full time to part-time or vice-versa, employment in which they elect to be superannuable, employers should notify SPPA by sending an electronic data submission using form NSR04.
The Starter Letter advises members that it may be possible to purchase additional pension benefits from the NHSSS(S). Further information regarding opportunities to purchase Additional Pension is included in section 7.