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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'.

February 2004

Executive Summary

    • UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing 150,000 members working in the public sector.

    • 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 function.

    • UNISON Scotland support changes that improve pension cover for members on maternity leave, as well as those which ignore breaks in pension contributions through unpaid maternity or parental leave.

    • 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.


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.

Maternity Leave

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.

Ill Health

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 be protected.


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.

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For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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