NHS cash for pensions offer undermines automatic enrolment

22 February 2016

The nurses’ union has raised concerns about its members taking up a cash for pensions offer without proper advice.

The Financial Times has reported that the concerns are about a pay deal offered by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in London. Under the deal the Trust has offered newly qualified nurses the choice of a higher salary if they opt out of the NHS pension scheme.

Concerns from The Royal College of Nursing include the impact this deal could have on members of staff if they are not properly advised about the long term consequences of opting out of a pension plan that provides both income in retirement and life assurance benefits. If a number of trusts were to follow suit it would undermine the viability of the NHS pension scheme as well as Agenda for Change, the nationally agreed pay framework.

The new pay offering is open to all band five nurses at Oxleas and will allow them the choice of taking either the standard pay scheme, or one that has an enhanced rate of pay which means the nurse would not be a member of the NHS pension scheme. The trust would instead be paying the nurse the money it would have paid into the NHS Pension Scheme on their behalf.

A spokesman for The Pensions Regulator stated that while it does not comment on individual employers, inducements are treated seriously and it investigates on a case by case basis. “Our published guidance sets out our view of what constitutes inducement. The guidance specifies that an employer is in breach where their sole or main purpose is to induce workers to leave the pension schemes.”