Proposed change to the Fitness Requirements
for employees Draft Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland)
Regulations 2003 Miscellaneous Amendments
The UNISON Scotland Submission
To the Scottish Public Pensions Agency on the
‘Draft Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland) Regulations
2003 Miscellaneous Amendments'.
UNISON Scotland takes proper pension provision
very seriously, with considerable time and resources spent
on negotiating, lobbying and campaigning for the defence
of public service schemes.
UNISON Scotland supports the amendments
aimed at extending the scope of admission agreements to
cover contracted out services or the outsourcing of a
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response
to the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) consultation paper
on the ‘Draft Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland) Regulations
2003 Miscellaneous Amendments'.
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
around 150,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond
to this consultation exercise.
These draft regulations aim to bring the Scottish
Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) into line with regulatory
amendments previously applied in England and Wales. The Scottish
Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) also believes that these amendments
will also bring the Scottish regulations up to date prior to
any proposed amendments which need to be considered in relation
to Government policy for occupational pension schemes.
The SPPA have indicated that they are still checking
to see if a few of the proposed amendments would actually apply
to Scotland. These include issues relating to School Achievement
Awards and bodies set up as housing management companies under
the Local Government Act 2000.
Proposals for Change
There are a number of proposed changes within
this consultation, document however most are mainly technical
changes. The following section highlights some of the main amendments,
the impacts these will have on the pension scheme and UNISON
Scotland's response to such changes.
Admission to LGPS
The draft regulations extend the scope of admission
agreement arrangements to allow admission agreement bodies approved
by the Secretary of State (or the relevant Scottish Minister)
to enter into an admission agreement to cover a contracted out
service or the providers of an outsourced function. There is
also some further fine tuning provisions dealing with ongoing
access to the LGPS for staff involved with such contracted out
services and functions. UNISON Scotland would be in favour of
these changes which allow employees of such services being able
to access the LGPS.
The current regulations have also been amended
to cover maternity leave rights under European law, which have
already impacted on the scheme by virtue of overriding European
legislation. SPPA consider it desirable and appropriate that
specific provision should be introduced to assist administrators
in understanding their liabilities and responsibilities. UNISON
Scotland support these changes as they will ensure that periods
of unpaid statutory ordinary maternity leave are treated as
periods of membership, and thus provide better cover to members.
UNISON Scotland would also support the proposed amendment whereby
periods of membership before and after any unpaid period of
maternity absence or period of paternal leave where the member
does not pay any contributions, shall be treated as continuous.
The draft regulations provide further clarification
on the issue of independent doctors in deciding cases of ill
health retirals. This includes a statement from such doctors
that they have not previously been involved in the particular
case for which a certificate has been requested. It also ensures
that they are not acting, or have acted, either for the member,
the Scheme employer or any other party in relation to the same
case. This amendment aims to strengthen the independence of
medical practitioners and, as such, UNISON Scotland does not
see any immediate concerns with this.
There is also an amendment to provide clarification
on provisions which cover ill health enhancements which would
otherwise be interpreted in a way which could penalise certain
employees with a combination of whole and part time employment.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the clarification on this issue as
it should provide members with a more accurate reflection of
their pension entitlement.
Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC's)
The draft regulations seek to amend issues surrounding
elections as to accumulated value of additional voluntary contributions
(AVC's). This change will only allow the use of the accumulated
AVC's to provide a scheme benefit when a member ceases to be
an active member of the scheme with immediate entitlement to
a pension. However these changes will not affect the rights
of members of members who entered into the AVC's scheme before
the change takes effect. There is also some change to the regulations
clarifying the position of AVC's transferred into the scheme
from a non-LGPS scheme. This would exclude rights under a non-scheme
additional voluntary contributions scheme from the list of relevant
pension rights which may count as membership in the scheme.
UNISON Scotland supports the principle that accrued rights should
There are further proposals within the regulations
affecting a number of issues. Among these is the deletion of
a provision in the 1998 regulations concerning the calculation
of death grants for re-employed pensioners. SPPA believe this
should be done both on grounds of equity and to reduce an administrative
burden. UNSION Scotland support any change which will improve
benefits to members and their families. Likewise UNISON Scotland
support further clarification on the issue of ‘eligible child',
which has been extended to include a child who was wholly or
mainly dependent on the deceased. There is also further clarification
to ensure that certain members of the scheme who were members
before 1st April 1998 continue to have a normal retirement date
between 60 and 65 as provided in earlier regulations. UNISON
Scotland welcomes this clarification.
UNISON Scotland also welcomes the proposed change
in relation to the resolution of disputes where information
about the Occupational Pensions Advisory Service (OPAS) must
be given to members.