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Can employers reduce their pension contributions?

  • Yes, if contributions to a defined contribution (“DC”) scheme exceed statutory minimum for auto-enrolment purposes, it may be possible to reduce employer contributions to the statutory minimum, but not further.
  • However, the processes required for reduction of DC employer contributions will necessitate obtaining legal advice:
    • Reducing employer contributions may require changes to the employment contracts of affected staff (as does the furlough process).
    • Reducing employer contributions may also require negotiation with trade unions or other staff representative forums.
    • Where group personal pensions are used, the contractual format may not permit changes of employer contributions, and hence it may also be necessary to enter into a new contractual arrangement. Choosing a new group personal pension plan is a not insignificant task in itself.
    • Employers with at least 50 employees are required to conduct a 60-day consultation process with affected employees if they propose to reduce employer contributions (but please see below).
    • Finally, it may require a change to the scheme rules and engagement with the scheme trustees if the scheme is operated under trust.
  • For DB schemes, specific considerations apply (see the last section, below).