Statement of Pensions Policy, April 2016

This policy statement replaces all previously published statements and applies to employees and workers.

An employee will be treated as being anyone who has been issued a contract of employment with the University (specifically, the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford).  All employees aged over 16 and under 75 are eligible for membership of the appropriate University pension scheme.

A worker is anyone who is not a University employee, but who has a contract personally to work for or provide services to the University and is not undertaking the work as part of their own business. The University offers all workers aged over 16 and under 75 enrolment in the appropriate University pension scheme.

Membership is by contractual enrolment (for employees), by automatic enrolment (for eligible jobholders) or by application.

Contractual enrolment

A new employee is contractually enrolled into the appropriate pension scheme until such time as he or she gives notice in writing to the Head of Pensions, Finance Division, University of Oxford, 6 Worcester Street, Oxford, OX1 1BX that he or she wishes to exercise his or her statutory right not to belong to the scheme. Employees who exercise this right will not receive any form of compensation in lieu of being a member of the scheme.

Automatic enrolment

In order to comply with the Pensions Act 2008, the University has a duty automatically to enrol or re-enrol into a qualifying pension scheme any eligible jobholder who is not already an active member of such a scheme.  If this happens, the eligible jobholder has the right to opt out of the scheme. The pension schemes offered by the University meet or exceed the qualifying standards set by the government. An eligible jobholder is an employee or worker who is aged between 22 and the State Pension Age, and who works, or ordinarily works, in the UK and earns above the threshold set by government. 

Application

All employees and workers aged over 16 and under 75 may ask to join an appropriate University pension scheme, by application to the Pensions Office.

University pension schemes

The University offers the following workplace pension schemes. These have been confirmed as qualifying schemes, which means they meet or exceed the government’s standards. The employer and employee both pay into these schemes.

  • The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS):This is a national scheme for staff employed on academic and academic-related scales of pay (generally grades 6 and above).
  • The University of Oxford Staff Pension Scheme (OSPS): This is the University’s scheme for those of its staff who are on scales of pay for support staff (generally grades 1 – 5). The scheme is also open to similar employees of colleges and other institutions that participate in the scheme.
  • National Employment Savings Trust (NEST): This is a national scheme.  The University will enrol in this scheme workers who are eligible for automatic enrolment or who ask to join a qualifying scheme.

When there is a change in a worker’s status (for example, an employee is promoted above grade 5, or a casual worker is recruited to a position as an employee) the appropriate scheme will be that which is applicable to the new position or status.

The University also participates in certain other schemes in respect of specific employees in exceptional circumstances. The main example is:

  • The National Health Service Pension Scheme (NHSPS): This is a national scheme for NHS employees. The only university staff who participate in this scheme are those who are employed in a clinical role and were active members of the NHSPS immediately before their employment by the University.

Pension Contributions

Any employee or worker who is a member of a University pension scheme pays personal contributions to the pension scheme in accordance with the rules, as amended from time to time, of the pension scheme. Personal contributions are usually collected by the University by way of deductions from employees’ salaries and paid over to the relevant pension scheme, together with any employer’s contribution.

The University pays the balance of cost of providing the benefits due under these schemes.

Salary Exchange for Pension Contributions (Salary Exchange)

Employees who join USS or OSPS, save for those who are earning close to the National Insurance contributions lower earnings limit, are automatically enrolled into Salary Exchange from three months after the date of joining the pension scheme, unless they give notice in writing to the Payroll Manager that they do not wish to be enrolled. In this case, the appropriate opt-out form should be completed and returned to the Payroll Manager at least one month before automatic enrolment. The opt-out form can be obtained from departmental administrators, or is available to download from the Salary Exchange website (see below).

Eligible employees may change their decision annually on 1 April or if they experience a ‘life change’ event.

Under Salary Exchange, the deduction for an employee’s personal pension contributions is reduced to nil. At the same time the employee’s pensionable salary is reduced by an amount equal to the employee’s pension contributions and the University increases its contributions to the pension scheme by an equivalent amount. Pensionable salary and pension scheme benefits for the employee are not reduced. Salary Exchange enables participating employees to achieve a reduction to their National Insurance contributions. Salary Exchange may not be of benefit to employees whose initial contract is for less than two years and who are expecting a refund of pension contributions at the end of the contract.

Employees who do not participate in Salary Exchange will continue to pay to the applicable pension scheme the personal contributions as described above.

Further information

General information on pensions and saving for later life can be found on:

Information on the pension schemes is available from:

USS

OSPS

NEST

NHSPS

Information on Salary Exchange for Pension Contributions.