Pension Scheme Eligibility FAQs

Key principles

  • All substantive academic and academic-related role holders are eligible for USS only.

  • An individual cannot be in both pension schemes.

  • To meet our auto-enrolment responsibilities, an employee can join one of the two pension schemes for all contracts held. However, employees with an Academic or Academic-related post (including AT contracts and temporary contracts at Grade 7 or above) cannot join GPP for this contract. In this scenario, an employee may be eligible to join USS for all posts held.  

  • Support staff role holders in employment prior to 31st December 2020 can remain in USS following re-appointment (if already an active USS member), and can also contribute to USS in respect of other posts acquired.

  • Support staff role holders in post prior to 31st December 2020 who opted out of USS in the past, had a window of opportunity to re-join the scheme in 2021. After 1st July 2021, they are no longer eligible to re-join the scheme. 

 

General Faqs

Can Academic or Academic-related employees (ATR, ATS, ALC and R&A) join the GPP?

 

No, employees subject to the above terms and conditions are eligible for USS only.

Can existing Support Staff employees re-join USS after 1st January 2021?

 

No, the window of opportunity for support staff to re-join USS closed on 30th June 2021.

How does this affect members of the UEASSS scheme?

 

The UEASSS scheme has been closed to new entrants for a number of years. Employees who are active members can remain in the scheme or choose to leave the scheme and join the GPP. If employees are considering this move, it is advisable to seek independent financial advice.

Do employees have to seek independent financial advice if they want to switch from USS to the GPP?

 

Legally employees must get financial advice if they wish to transfer from a defined benefit pension scheme (e.g. final salary or career average) such as USS to a defined contribution scheme such as the Group Personal Pension. Financial advice is recommended but not mandatory if an employee wishes to leave USS and preserve their pension fund, and subsequently join the GPP. Further information is available, along with free help and advice at Moneyhelper.org.uk.

Where can employees obtain further information about the risk benefits provided via Legal and General e.g. Life Assurance and Income Protection?

 

Further information can be found on the Pensions webpages. In addition, new entrants will receive a welcome email from the Pensions team, which will provide details of the schemes. 

When employees in the USS scheme take unpaid leave, their pension contribution will not be made on these dates and employees will not be covered for death in service during this period (unless the contributions are ‘bought back’). Does the same principle apply to the GPP Life Assurance scheme?

 

Members of the GPP would be covered under the Temporary Absence Clause of the scheme terms and conditions. This means that employees remain eligible for life assurance of 3x basic annual salary for up to 3 years, when absent from work for reasons other than illness or injury. In the case of absence for illness or injury, employees are covered until retirement.

Where can employees find out what the University’s default investment option and default retirement age is for the GPP scheme?

 

Further information can be found on the Pensions webpages. In addition, new entrants will receive a welcome email from the Pensions team, which will provide this information.

Support staff in post before 31st December (substantive roles)

If a Support Staff employee who was in post before 31st December 2020, is re-appointed to a new support staff role will they continue to be eligible for the USS scheme?

 

If the employee is already an active member of USS they will be eligible to remain in USS in their new post. Re-appointment letters will confirm that their contract remains unchanged in this respect. 

If a Support Staff employee who was in post before 31st December 2020 obtains an additional Support Staff post, will they continue to be eligible for the USS scheme?

 

If the employee is already an active member of USS they will be eligible for USS in any additional posts offered to them. Therefore, offer letters will include a variation to the T&Cs, enabling them to remain in USS. Employees cannot be enrolled in both pension schemes.

If a Support Staff employee who was in post before 31st December 2020, takes a period of unpaid leave (including leave linked to maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave), will they be able to re-commence their pension contributions in the USS scheme when they return to work?

 

If the employee is an active member of USS at the point the unpaid leave commences, they will be able to remain in the USS scheme and re-commence their contributions on their return to work (or maintain their contributions throughout the period, if they wish).

Academic or Academic-related post holders

If an employee in an Academic or Academic-related post obtains a second contract for a Support Staff post, under what pension terms will the second post be offered?

 

The second post will include a variation to the T&Cs, enabling them to contribute to USS in their Support Staff role. Employees cannot be enrolled in both pension schemes.

If an employee is demoted from an Academic or Academic-related post to a Support Staff post, under what pension terms will the new post be offered?

 

If the employee is an active member of USS when they are re-appointed, the post offered to them will include a variation to the T&Cs, enabling them to remain in USS

Support Staff in post from 1st January 2021

If an employee who joins after 1st January 2021 is promoted from a Support Staff post to an Academic or Academic-related post, will they be able to remain in the GPP?

 

No, under the terms of an Academic or Academic-related post, the employee will no longer be able to contribute to the GPP but they will have the option to join USS.

If an employee who joins after 1st January 2021 is seconded from a Support Staff post to an Academic or Academic-related post, will they be able to remain in the GPP?

 

Yes, the default position will be to maintain the pension that relates to the employee’s substantive role, unless the employee requests that the USS scheme is made available for the duration of the secondment. This scenario will require further discussion with the employee.

If an employee who holds a substantive support staff contract and is an active member of the GPP is offered an additional temporary contract that is only eligible for USS e.g. Associate Tutor or Temporary contract at Grade 7 or above, which scheme will they be eligible to join for this additional post?

 

Employees cannot be enrolled in both pension schemes. Therefore, the Pensions team will be required to determine the appropriate course of action based on the individual circumstances.