Councils and local authorities can have complicated employment issues, certainly so far as senior officers are concerned, which require sensitivity and with expert knowledge of the statutory and constitution issues that are involved. We have considerable experience in advising councils and local authorities in such situations, and working with them to manage the risks appropriately.
We also provide advice on matters such as restructuring and the steps that councils need to go through to ensure that they are observing the appropriate legal processes, from a governance and employment perspective. We have extensive experience in advising on grievances and other issues in local authorities, and carrying out sensitive investigations into complex and often highly political matters involved.
As the doors close forever on many defined-benefit pension schemes, the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is a significant competitive advantage for local government employers in attracting and retaining staff. However, there are traps for the unwary that need to be watched.
With many local authorities contracting services, the requirement to ensure that transferred staff can still access the LGPS (or a broadly comparable scheme) is more relevant than ever. Receiving employers are increasingly reluctant to take on the risks of variable contribution rates, strain costs and exit payments, and often seek to pass these risks back to the local authority. These liabilities can be significant and being clear up front about what risks a contractor is expected to take on is critical, but, even then, detailed negotiation is often required. We have considerable experience in advising on and negotiating detailed pension arrangements in outsourcing situations and helping local authorities to understand the arrangements they are entering into, both under the contract and any admission agreement, so that they manage risks appropriately. Our experience in advising receiving employers, as well as LGPS employers, means that we are able to provide valuable insight into the approach taken.
Experts in TUPE and pensions
With local government under significant cost pressures, local authorities are understandably keen to minimise the substantial pension-strain costs that can arise, both in redundancy and restructuring situations, but also when staff take early release of pension benefits on grounds of ill health. Often these costs are unavoidable, but we have advised a number of LGPS employers on how best to manage change programmes to minimise pension-strain costs on redundancy and business efficiency. We have also helped employers ensure that decisions on ill-health benefits are appropriately managed to avoid unnecessary costs.
We help LGPS employers manage their cost pressures by ensuring that they have robust policies in place, dealing with the exercise of discretions under the LGPS regulations. All LGPS employers are required to outline how certain discretions will be exercised and we can assist with formulating and reviewing policies, as well as advising on the exercise of discretions.
Where employees are unhappy about decisions taken on their pension benefits we also help LGPS employers and pension funds to manage appeals, under the internal dispute-resolution procedure. Our considerable experience in this area means that we are able to advise quickly and cost efficiently, allowing time to be focused elsewhere and minimising the risk of applications to the Pensions Ombudsman.
A specialist in legal and strategic advice to local authorities.
We have been recognised for the work we do
The engagement report found four key areas for improvement; key person risk, pension board management, protecting members from scams and handling employer-related risks.
A local authority recently received a "roasting" by the Pensions Ombudsman for their delay in processing an employee’s ill-health retirement pension, following her diagnosis with advanced cancer.
The Government has been refused permission to appeal a decision ruling that transitional arrangements in public sector pension schemes are discriminatory.
The Government has resurrected its plans to cap the termination payments for exiting employees in the public sector.
This briefing assists response to the consultation paper by outlining the consultation questions, providing some background information and prompting some thoughts and potential answers.
A recent case stands as a good reminder to employers to be careful when distinguishing between pensionable employment under a pension scheme’s rules and employment under a contract of employment.
The gig economy, the tensions between it, and our more established ways of working are rarely far from the news these days.
The Government has this week resurrected its proposals to cap exit payments for public sector workers at £95,000.
The Government announced in April 2018 that they would release new proposals at the end of 2018 and so, as we stretch in 2019, we now have the new consultation proposals.
Doug Mullen explains how to prepare for some of the changes to evolving pensions landscape in 2019.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.