Age discrimination pension regulations
The Government has issued the final version of its age discrimination regulations as they will apply to pension arrangements. The regulations come following previous delays to correct problems inherent in the first set of Government regulations in this area.
Anne Taylor, Head of Pensions at national law firm Irwin Mitchell said
"Whilst the new regulations are welcome, because they address many of the problems arising from the Government's first attempt to deal with pension schemes (which are inherently age discriminatory), trustees and employers will be annoyed that another major piece of legislation has been delayed until the last minute.
The Government has had six years to implement the European Directive on age discrimination (including a three year extension granted by the EU), we have only been given the final regulations with two weeks to go to implementation date. This is insufficient time for trustees and employers to assess the impact of the regulations on their pension arrangements and take appropriate steps. The main risk is that some schemes will be caught by the automatic levelling up process embedded in the regulations if their benefit/structure is discriminatory after 1 December 2006.
A number of industry bodies including the CBI have attempted to persuade the Government to grant a transitional window to allow further time to implement the required changes (especially as all the delays so far have been on the part of the Government). Unfortunately, the Government has so far failed to address any concerns in this area.
This means trustees and employers will need to move quickly to review scheme documentation and consider the impact of the new regulations and any necessary changes or run the risk that they will be caught by the levelling up requirements."