In our February 2014 pensions update we noted that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was due to come into force in March. The Act is now in force and additional regulations have also been brought into force which amend both primary and secondary legislation in line with the Act.
As noted in our February update, the new requirements mean that pension schemes must provide survivors' benefits to same sex spouses on the same basis as is required in relation to civil partners. This means that, as a minimum, schemes must provide the same benefits to same sex spouses as they do for opposite sex spouses in relation to non-contracted out benefits accrued from 5 December 2005 (although this is subject to a broader Government review of requirements relating to survivors' benefits due to be published on 1 July 2014).
As noted in our previous update, trustees will be given a statutory modification power to modify their schemes by resolution in order to provide for pension payments to a same sex spouse. However, this power will not apply to private legal instruments (including a scheme's trust deed and rules) made before 13 March 2014, trustees should therefore review their rules to ensure that there is no conflict with the new requirements and that any member communications, such as member booklets, are up to date.