- What happens if I am off work?
Maternity, paternity or adoption leave
While you are on statutory maternity leave, both paid and unpaid, you will continue to be a member of the Scheme. Your contributions will be based on your actual rate of pay during your leave, while the contributions paid by MRC will be based on your full pensionable salary.
Your membership of the Scheme will continue as normal as long as you are still being paid, regardless of whether this is at full or half-rate.
With the exception of unpaid leave recognised by law (such as statutory unpaid maternity leave), any time you are off work and are not being paid does not count towards your pension. You may remain an active member of the Scheme, but you will not accrue any pension for that time.
- What if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint you should always raise it with the Scheme administrators, JLT, first. If they are unable to resolve your complaint, you should refer it to the Pensions Manager.
If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can refer the issue to the trustees using a formal grievance procedure. You can request details of the procedure from the Scheme Secretary.
- What is the Scheme’s approach to Sustainable Investment?
Tax Regime for your Pension Questions
- How do I get tax relief my pension contributions?
Your contributions are deducted from your salary before your tax position is calculated, which means that you get tax relief at your highest marginal rate through payroll each month.
- What is the contribution limit?
The annual allowance, which is the maximum pension contribution, reduced to £50,000 in 2011.
The limit was reduced further to £40,000 from April 2014.
From April 2016 a tapering restriction was introduced, which could reduce the annual allowance below £40,000.
- What happens if I exceed the annual allowance?
You will still get tax relief on your contributions, but will be subject to a tax charge at your highest rate of tax.
- This is a significant change; are there ways to reduce any potential tax bill?
Although £40,000 is the maximum annual contribution, you will be able to carry forward unused relief from the three previous tax years. This means that currently you would be able to go back to 2015/2016 tax year.
- I pay contributions based on 6.5% of my salary; I can’t see that I will ever exceed this new £40,000 annual limit.
The new limit will be based on the amount your MRC pension entitlement increases each year multiplied by a factor of 16.
- What happens with the tax free lump sum I am entitled to in addition to the pension?
The increase in both pension and tax free lump sum has to be taken into account when calculating the limit.
- How will I know the change in my MRC pension?
Your annual benefit statement will show the pension accrued to 31 March, which is a new feature, and is intended to help you to monitor whether you have exceeded the annual limit.
- I make AVCs; how does that affect the new limits?
AVCs will also have to be included in the assessment of annual contributions.
- I am buying added years; will I be assessed on the contributions I pay or the amount of service I am buying?
You will be assessed on the amount of service you are buying and the equivalent annual increase in your pension each year.
- I have a deferred pension with another scheme, which I no longer pay into. Does that pension need to be taken into account?
No – deferred pensions that increase by price inflation do not need to be included in the annual assessment.
- I have a pension that is already in payment. Does that have to be included?
No – pensions in payment do not need to be included in the annual assessment.
- Who will tell me if I exceed the annual allowance?
JLT will provide a Pensions Savings Statement (PSS) on behalf of the MRC Scheme together with information for the three previous years. This will be based on MRC Scheme data only.
- Owing to the nature of my role, I am also a member of another pension scheme. How does this affect me?
This means you will be accruing benefits under two pension schemes. Your benefits in aggregate will be subject to the new limits.
- What is tapering of the annual allowance?
The annual allowance of £40,000 could be reduced if you have taxable earnings over £110,000.
- What happens if I incur a tax bill, but can’t afford to pay it?
The government has decided to allow scheme members the option of off-setting any tax bill against their pension.
- Who should I contact if I have any further questions about the new contribution limits?
In the first instance, you should contact JLT for assistance on 01372 200 275.
- Can JLT give me financial advice?
JLT is not licensed to give financial advice. There is a website at www.unbiased.co.uk, which can be used to find independent financial advisers local to where you work or live.
Opting out of the Scheme
- When can I opt out of the MRC Pension Scheme?
You can opt out of the Scheme at any time, but you should have very good reasons and take financial advice before doing this.
- Where can I get financial advice?
There is a website at www.unbiased.co.uk that can offer guidance on obtaining financial and legal advice.
- What happens if I opt out within two years of joining the MRC Scheme?
You will be entitled to a refund of your contributions, less tax.
- What happens to the employer contributions that were made for me?
These will remain within the Scheme and be used for the benefit of the other members.
- Can I take a transfer value instead of a refund?
You can transfer your benefits to another pension arrangement, but must elect to do so within three months of opting out. Otherwise, you will receive a refund.
- What happens if I opt out of the Scheme with more than two years’ service?
If that happens, you will be entitled to a deferred pension.
- What happens to the death in service lump sum if I opt out?
Active members in the Scheme are covered for four times pensionable salary by way of death in service lump sum. Members who have opted out are covered for five times the deferred pension only.
- What happens to the pension payable to my partner if I die in service after opting out?
This will be less than for active members and based on 50% of your deferred pension only.
- Is opting out of the Scheme irrevocable?
You can rejoin the Scheme subject to the agreement of MRC and will be re-enrolled in a workplace pension approximately every three years. There is no guarantee you will be re-enrolled in the MRC Scheme.
- If I opt out and am eligible to rejoin, what happens to my previous pension?
The two periods can be kept separate or linked together when you retire, but your service will not be treated as continuous as the period during which you were out of the Scheme will be excluded.
- If I opt out and the Scheme has changed in the meantime, will I be able to rejoin on the original terms?
No – you will only be able to rejoin on the current terms available.
- Will MRC compensate me if I decide to opt out?
No – MRC has invested considerable sums of money in the Scheme for the benefit of staff and their families in retirement.
- I am thinking about opting out because of financial hardship. Are there other options open to me?
Although the Scheme is contributory, opting out is considered to be a false economy as the net cost of membership is around 5.2%.
Health Assured offers MRC staff a confidential helpline service as part of the employee assistance programme on 0800 783 0208.
Means tested financial assistance may be available from the MRC Staff Benevolent Fund www.sbfa.mrc.ac.uk.
- Who should I contact if I have any further questions about the MRC Pension Scheme?
You should contact JLT at firstname.lastname@example.org.