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COVID-19 and Pensions

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on all our daily lives, at work and at home.  

As you will be aware certain measures have been introduced by the government to seek to slow down the spread of this virus and it is essential that we all take action to protect ourselves and those around us during these challenging times.

Many of our reps and members are continuing to work on the front line in retail and distribution, but many will also have been temporarily sent home from work whilst we are in a period of self- isolation.

This may be a good time to think about your finances including your pension.

We have put together some hints and tips you might want to consider

Pension Contributions

This might be a burden for some of you right now and we are keeping our eye on what future measures the Government might announce. There have been calls from some employers to suspend pension contributions temporarily but there have been no changes announced so far.

We will continue to monitor this.

For others you might want to increase your contributions, or put a “one off” lump sum in your pension pot (for instance if you are entitled to a bonus and would like to maximise the tax efficiencies of paying more into your pension).

The majority of companies will have asked their pension and payroll staff to work from home at the moment but they will be endeavoring to continue the business as normal so ring your company’s pension or HR helpline if you want to find out more or if you have any queries or concerns.

Alternatively contact the Pension Section at Usdaw if you would like to talk something through on 0161 224 2804 or email us at [email protected]

Life Cover

Most companies will offer a lump sum payment in the event of your death before retirement.

Some companies will offer this automatically-but some will only offer this if you are a member of your workplace pension scheme. Other companies may offer a higher lump sum if you agree to step up to a higher contribution level within the pension.

Be clear about what you are entitled to.

Nomination Form

In the event of your death before retirement you can arrange for any death benefits to be paid to one or more individuals or organisations (your “beneficiaries”).

It is important however that you complete a Nomination Form as this acts as guidance for the Scheme Trustees so that they can settle any death benefits that are due in accordance with your wishes.

A Nomination Form is usually completed in connection with your life cover benefits and your pension benefits.

You may have other pension pots from previous employers so it is worthwhile tracking these down to make sure they have an up to date Nomination Form.

Some of you will have participated in more than one pension arrangement with your current employer-for instance you may have been a member of a final salary arrangement which has closed. If you are in this position check if a separate Nomination Form is required for each scheme.

The other benefits of completing a Nomination Form are that any payments due:

  • Can be made directly to your chosen beneficiary, without forming part of your estate;

  • Should not be subject to income tax or inheritance tax; and

  • Will be made immediately without waiting for grant of probate or Letters of Administration to be taken out.

Usdaw’s Free Will Service

Whilst you are focusing on your finances you should remember that as a member of usdaw you are entitled to a free Will service for yourself and your partner.

If you have not already accessed this valuable service why put it off?

A Will is an important document. It sets out who you wish to inherit your estate. If you do not make a Will the law dictates who will inherit your estate and this may not be what you would wish.

It is important to ensure that your Will is prepared by a skilled professional who can give you accurate and informed advice.

In your Will you can:

  • Leave your estate to anyone you wish. This will normally be family members with a named substitute should they die before you;

  • Leave gifts to any individual or to a charity; choose your executors to administer your estate;

  • Appoint guardians for your infant children to look after their interests until they reach the age of 18

  • In appropriate cases set up a trust which will allow infant children access to funds before they reach the age of 18.

Use Usdaw’s free Will writing service to make sure your wishes are followed and to give you peace of mind. Apply here.

Tracking Down a Lost Pension

It has been reported that up to three billion pounds may be sitting in individual pension pots and workplace pension schemes, which have not yet been claimed.

Whilst you are thinking about getting your finances in order why not check your pension paperwork. Do you have any pensions with a previous employer or perhaps you may have a personal pension which you have taken out yourself and you have lost track of them?

If you are unable to get hold of your former employer or pension provider the Department for Work and Pensions has a free Pension Tracing Service which may be able to put you back in touch.

Start by phoning the Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 or search “Pension Tracing Service” at www.gov.uk to fill in an online application form.

If the tracing service can’t find your pension you can contact The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) may be able to give you more advice or help. Telephone them on 0800 011 3797 or go to their website at www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

For more information about your finances in general please access the links below to the Money and Pension Service:

Read the latest advice about pension scammers on our website here: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/Help-Advice/Pensions/Coronavirus-and-Pension-Scammers

Free prize draw

Enter our free prize draw to win a £100 Love2Shop Gift Voucher courtesy of Usdaw Health and Dental.

The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers