For defined benefit pension schemes, all scheme annual returns submitted to the Pensions Regulator from 1 November 2011 must contain details of the scheme’s ‘statutory employers’. Broadly, a ‘statutory employer’ is a company which is legally responsible for paying any of the following:
- contributions to the scheme to meet the statutory funding objective
- an employer debt (known as a “Section 75” debt) should an employer leave a multi-employer scheme or suffer an insolvency event whilst the scheme is ongoing
- all or part of the scheme’s debt on a winding up of the scheme.
Although trustees would expect their statutory employers to be the current participating employers, former employers might still be classed as ‘statutory employers’ for the purposes of pensions legislation. Trustees of schemes with a complicated history may therefore need to seek legal advice before being in a position to correctly fill in their scheme annual return.
Trustees should document who the statutory employers are for their scheme and provide this information to the person who submits the scheme annual return to the Pensions Regulator on their behalf. If the scheme has historically contained employers that no longer participate, trustees may need to obtain legal advice before submitting the return.
To read the Pensions Regulator’s statement on this new requirement go to: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/identifying-your-statutory-employer-statementjuly- 2011.pdf