THE POLICE PENSION SCHEMES AND ADDITIONAL VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS (AMENDMENT) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2018
The above regulations make certain changes that you may not be aware of, but they give the option of you buying back periods of unpaid family leave, as well as the provision of the Added Voluntary Contribution Scheme.
Federation reps cannot give you financial advice but please contact your local rep for help/signposting in relation to any of the below. Alternatively you can contact our Equality Lead and Treasurer, Gary Foster on GFoster@humber.polfed.org
BUY-BACK OF UNPAID FAMILY LEAVE
Until these regulations were laid members of the Police Pension Scheme (PPS) 1987 and the New Police Pension Scheme (NPPS) 2006 were only able to buy-back periods of unpaid maternity leave and unpaid parental leave for pension purposes i.e. to count as periods of pensionable service.
Following extensive representations from PFEW, the pension regulations have now been amended to also provide for the buy-back for pension purposes of periods of the following types of unpaid family leave in the PPS 1987 and the NPPS 2006:
Unpaid adoption leave
Officers with at least 26 weeks’ service, but less than one year’s service, by the end of the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption are entitled to: one week’s full police pay, followed by up to 38 weeks paid at Statutory Adoption Pay rate (SAP) followed by 13 weeks’ unpaid leave.
Officers with at least one year’s service by the end of the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption are entitled to: 18 weeks’ full police pay, followed by up to 21 weeks paid at the SAP rate, followed by up to 13 weeks’ unpaid additional adoption leave.
Unpaid ordinary adoption support leave
Ordinary adoption support leave provides for two weeks’ leave around the time of the adoption. It is paid for the first week and is only unpaid for the second week if the officer does not qualify for statutory paternity pay.
Unpaid additional adoption support leave
This can be for between two and 26 weeks and can be taken at any point between 20 weeks after the child’s placement for adoption and the end of the 52nd week.
Unpaid ordinary maternity support leave
Ordinary maternity support leave provides for two weeks’ leave around the time of the birth. It is paid for the first week and is only unpaid for the second week if the officer does not qualify for statutory paternity pay.
Unpaid additional maternity support leave
This can be for between two and 26 weeks and can be taken at any point between 20 weeks after the child’s birth and the end of the 52nd week after the child’s birth.
The provisions are retrospective and so they apply to any of the above types of unpaid family leave taken on or after 1st September 2014.
NB. Members of the Police Pension Scheme 2015 (the CARE 2015 Scheme) are already able to buy back all these types of unpaid family leave.
Buying back a period of unpaid family leave
A member who wishes to buy-back a period (or periods) of unpaid family leave for pension purposes must notify the police pension authority1 in writing.
The member will be required to pay an amount equal to the amount of pension contributions which would have been paid had the period of unpaid leave not been taken. This is based on the member’s pensionable pay (including any statutory adoption pay or statutory paternity pay) immediately before the start of the unpaid leave which is being bought back.
Timescales for buy-back
As the new provisions are retrospective, members have been given up to and including 21 August 2018 to elect to buy-back for pension purposes periods of unpaid family leave taken on or after 1 September 2014.
The regulations also provide that, where the police pension authority is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for a member to give written notice on or before 21 August 2018 (e.g. because s/he is on a career break), then notice to buy back the period(s) of unpaid family leave must be given on or before 21 May 2019.
Buyback of unpaid maternity support leave
Although PFEW was pleased that these new provisions had been made, we believed that they should extend back in time further than the date in the new Regulations (1 September 2014).
Specifically, PFEW considered that not allowing members (predominantly men) to buy-back periods of unpaid maternity support leave for pension purposes to the same extent that members (exclusively women) who took maternity leave were permitted to buy-back periods of unpaid maternity leave for pension purposes amounted to indirect sex discrimination.
Following representations from PFEW on this point the Home Office has agreed to amend the Police Pension Schemes and Additional Voluntary Contributions (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 to enable officers who have taken maternity support leave from 3 April 2011 to buy back that leave for pension purposes. The Home Office’s intention is to make the amendment by February 2019 subject to parliamentary time/procedure.
Therefore it is recommended that members who wish to buy-back for pension purposes a period (or periods) of unpaid ordinary or additional maternity support leave which was taken from 3 April 2011 until 1 September 2014 should also make a written election to the force to buy back this unpaid leave by 21 August 2018.
ADDITIONAL VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS (AVCs)
The Police Pension (Additional Voluntary Contributions) Regulations 1991 have been amended to allow for the “additional flexibilities” available to members wishing to access their defined contribution pensions, including Police Pension Scheme 1987-linked AVCs, from HM Treasury’s minimum pension age of 55.
Home Office Circular (HOC) 7/2016 contains further information about the additional flexibilities:
The amendments are with effect from 28 July 2016, the date the Home Office’s policy intention was promulgated in HOC 7/2016.
Some points to note:
The AVC scheme allows officers to regularly save into a defined contribution pension arrangement and to take up additional life cover.
The AVC scheme was closed to new members from 1 October 2010 and so the number of officers affected by these changes is likely to be relatively small.
There are two AVC pension providers: Standard Life and Equitable Life.
The amendments to the Police Pension (Additional Voluntary Contributions) Regulations 1991 enable these providers to allow members greater flexibility in accessing their AVCs, but they do not require the providers to do so.
Members considering using these new flexibilities should seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions. One option is Pension Wise, which offers free and impartial government guidance about defined contribution pension options: https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/en