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Section 3: Joining and Re-joining the Scheme

  • 3.1 Information to be Provided to Employees

    The HSC Pension Scheme provides a wide package of pension benefits and all eligible employees 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. This provides the member with information relating the benefits of the scheme and allows them to make an informed decision about continuing their membership.

  • 3.2 Employees Joining the Scheme

    Most HSC employees will be eligible to join the scheme and no medical examination is required. Employees are automatically brought into the scheme on commencing employment. The member should complete a copy of the available from the scheme website as this will provide employers with important information relating to the employee’s previous membership which may include details of added year’s contracts which must be honoured. The joiner form also provides the employee with details about how they should arrange a transfer from a previous pension provider if they so wish. Form 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.

    HSC 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 HSCSS(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 HSC.

    The maximum numbers of hours that can be pensionable in the HSCPS 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.

    Re-joining after Retirement

    Generally former scheme members who have received their HSCPS retirement benefits cannot re- join the scheme. The exceptions are listed below:

    • 1995 section – former members, who retired on Ill Health grounds, and at the time of re- joining, 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 HSCPS if at least 2 years have elapsed since their retirement.
    • Members who chose to transfer to the 2008 section during the Choice Exercise may be able to return to the 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.
    • 2015 section members, who retired on Tier 1 Ill Health grounds and meet the general eligibility criteria

    If there is any doubt as to whether a re-employed pensioner is eligible to join the 1995/2008 sections of the scheme or the 2015 Scheme, employers should contact HSC Pension Service who will provide guidance on the pensioner’s eligibility to re-join.

    Working after Retirement

    If a member has been awarded an HSC pension, in some cases it may be possible to continue working in the HSC or take up further employment without affecting their pension benefits.

    • The pension benefits will not be affected if they return to HSC 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 HSC totalling 16 hours or less a week are ignored for this purpose); and
    • they were age 60/65/SPA 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 60/65/SPA; 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 HSC Pension Service 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 HSC Pension Service when taking up re-employment in any capacity (whether pensionable or non-pensionable). Failure to notify the HSC Pension Service 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: .

    Joining Forms

    Form is HSC Pension Scheme’s joiner form, which is completed by the employee and should include details of previous added years contracts if applicable and information relating to previous benefits accrued with another pension provider which the member may wish to transfer into the HSC Pension Scheme.

    Details of each new member are interfaced to HSC Pension Service to set up an individual computer record of membership.

    should also be used for all automatically enrolled employees.

    HSC Pension Service will enter the member into the relevant scheme dependent on their previous service and eligibility under the Pension Reform Protection rules.

    If a member has indicated that they wish to transfer benefits into the HSC Pension Scheme the member should be advised to contact HSC Pension Service as soon as possible as there are strict time limits on the processing of transfers. Transfers from other providers should be completed within a year of the member joining the scheme. Employers should provide employees with the Transfer in Guide if applicable.

  • 3.3. Employees who Opt out of the Scheme

    Following automatic enrolment, employees should complete form if they do not wish to remain in the scheme. When the employee has completed the Opt Out form, they will forward this to their employer/Payroll Shared Services. Employers should retain a copy for their records.

    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.

  • 3.4 Employees Who Re-join the Scheme

    A should be completed and forwarded to the employer where an employee who has previously opted out of the scheme, now wishes to join or re-join the scheme. The application should be accepted at any time before retirement unless the applicant is absent for any reason. HSC Pension Service will advise if there is any doubt about an employee’s right to re-join the scheme.

  • 3.5 Employees Employed in General Practices

    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 HSC.

    However, the following benefits do not apply:

    • Premature Retirement;
    • Injury Benefits Scheme.
  • 3.6 Transferring Pension Rights to the HSCSS(S)

    The Scheme Guide advises employees that it may be possible to transfer previous pension scheme rights to the HSCPS so that they count when scheme benefits are calculated. All transfers are subject to time limits (see Transfers section 7 for information)

    The provided with the Starter Letter should be completed and the member advised to contact HSC Pension Service to initiate the Transfer In process.

  • 3.7 Part Time Employees

    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 electronic interface submission.

    If a part-time employee works concurrently with the HSC in England/Wales or Scotland, or is in receipt of a pension from the NHS in England/Wales or Scotland and takes up part-time employment in N Ireland, HSC Pension Service should be notified as soon as possible to determine the Pension 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 pensionable, employers should notify HSC Pension Service via the electronic interface submission.

  • 3.8 Buying Additional HSCPS Scheme Benefits

    The refers members to the possible purchase of additional pension benefits from the HSCPS. Further information regarding opportunities to purchase Additional Pension is included in section 7.