Coronavirus and your workplace pension

We understand that this is a challenging time for many of our members and that your work situation may have changed suddenly. We’ve answered some key questions about your workplace pension below.

Our information is based on the latest guidance from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and all the answers are correct as of March 25. We’ll update this information if it changes.

Our member support team continue to work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We’re online only at the moment, but please email your queries to membersupport@nowpensions.com (include your full name, NOW: Pensions ID number and NI number in the email) and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We want to help you during this challenging time.

You can also find the latest information about work, jobs and pensions on GOV.UK.

I’d like to suspend paying my workplace pension contributions until my work situation improves. How can I do this?

To temporarily stop paying contributions, you’ll need to cease active membership of the NOW: Pensions Trust (the ‘Scheme’).

You can do this by logging into our member website. Simply click the ‘Opt-out button’ and complete the relevant forms. You can also contact our member support team for a paper copy of the opt-out form.

Your employer will also stop paying its contributions at the same time.

If you don’t rejoin, you may be automatically re-enrolled at your employer’s next re-enrolment date. This occurs once every three years.

If I pause my workplace pension contributions during the Coronavirus, can I re-start them later?

Yes. When you want to re-start paying pension contributions, you’ll need to rejoin the Scheme (this is in line with pension regulation). You can opt back in at any time by logging into our member website and clicking on the ‘Opt-in’ button. You can also contact our member support team for a paper copy of the opt-in form.

Make sure you let your employer know when you opt back into the scheme, so they re-start their contributions. Your employer will also be notified through our employer website.

I can’t find any emails about my NOW: Pensions workplace pension, but can I pause my payments?

If you don’t have your pension scheme ID number, please email us with your full name and NI number. We can find your pension information with these details. 

To temporarily stop paying contributions, you’ll need to cease active membership of the NOW: Pensions Trust (the ‘Scheme’).

See above for details of how to do this.

I’d like to freeze my workplace pension contributions for a minimum of three months. How can I do this?

To temporarily stop paying contributions, for however long you need to do it for, you’ll need to cease active membership of the NOW: Pensions Trust (the ‘Scheme’).

See above for details of how to do this. 

My employer is shutting down. Is my workplace pension safe? 

Yes. Any money that has been paid into, and invested in, your workplace pension is yours and will remain so, regardless of what happens to your employer. None of your contributions, nor your employer’s contributions can be refunded to your employer.

You can leave your pension where it is or transfer your savings into another suitable pension.

If you’re aged 55 or over, you can take your pension.

My employer has advised me to stop paying into my pension for the time being because of the Coronavirus. Is this right?

No. Your employer isn’t allowed to influence any of your decisions about your workplace pension. This is known as ‘inducement’ and there’s a law against it to protect you.

If you decide to stop paying into your workplace pension, this must be your decision.

For this reason, your employer can’t provide you with you opt-out forms.

If the government is paying my employer to pay 80% of my salary, will my employer still be paying pension contributions, or will these be stopped?

No. Your employer is still required to paying pension contributions while receiving government support. 

The contribution rate will also remain the same – for example, if your employer usually pays 3% of your earnings, they will continue to pay that amount, and you’ll pay the remaining 5% to make up the total minimum of 8%.

If your earnings are less than normal, the amount of deductions will change accordingly.

Are the auto enrolment thresholds for pension scheme membership changing now that the government is paying some employees’ salaries?

No. The auto enrolment thresholds remain the same for eligible, non-eligible and entitled employees, regardless of who is paying their salary. If you’ve already been enrolled into your employer’s workplace pension, you’ll remain a member of the scheme.

If you’re a new employee, and you’re receiving 80% of your salary, you might not meet the eligibility criteria for auto enrolment.

Can I pay less than my usual minimum contribution to my workplace pension during this time?

No. The minimum contribution rates for workplace pensions are specified by law. The current minimum is 8%, at least 3% of which must come from your employer. You make up the rest.

Is my pension fund safe during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Yes, your pension is safe. The pension assets are held in a separate trust overseen by a trustee company who looks after members’ interests. 

Useful links

NP/B0014

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