Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance
The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust recognises the devastating impact the spread of Covid-19 is having primarily on the health of the population but also on the economy.
With our own business continuity plan now rolled out, many of our staff are working from home whilst a minimal team manage the office. We are asking employers and members to contact us by email mypension@TLWPT.co.uk where possible and we will get back to you either by email or phone. Please keep in contact, we're here to help.
This is an uncertain time for both employers and employees. The government has said it will “do whatever it takes” to support businesses through the crisis and this has led to some speculation that there could be a short-term suspension of minimum employer contributions in order to relieve financial pressure. The Pensions Regulator however has said it expects all firms to conform to their pension obligations.
In light of ongoing developments with Coronavirus (COVID-19) we wanted to tell you about the steps we are taking to ensure business continuity during the coming weeks while prioritising the health of our colleagues and our clients.
What we are doing to protect our clients and our colleagues
The health and wellbeing of our colleagues and our clients is at the forefront of our plans. As well as closely following government guidelines, we are taking the following steps:
- The majority of our employees are now working remotely.
- We will not be hosting meetings at our offices until further notice.
- We will continue to have client meetings but for the time being these will be conducted via telephone & video calls.
- Our teams are in constant communication with each other.
Information for Employers
Rest assured that we have been planning carefully to ensure that we can continue to provide the highest levels of service in these extraordinary circumstances. If you need support, please email us at: mypension@TLWPT.co.uk
We understand that some businesses are having to change their priorities because of the Coronavirus. However, it’s important that you continue to submit the relevant payroll data in the normal timescales.
Please note, The Pensions Regulator has been explicit that it expects employers to continue contributing.
Auto Enrolment pension obligations will continue.
It has, however, stated: “We know this is a challenging time for everyone and we recognise the strain this is putting on employers. We will take a proportionate and risk-based approach towards enforcement decisions, in light of these challenging times, with the aim of helping to get employers back on track and supporting both employers and savers.”
Contribution levels – please ensure that contributions are in line with, or more than, the statutory minimum (8% of qualifying earnings in total, with at least 3% coming from you as the employer).
Contributions for unpaid staff – if you’re not currently paying staff, no pension contributions are due.
If this is the case, please advise mypension@TLWPT.co.uk in order for our records to be updated.
If you’re paying some staff, but not others, simply remove the lines for the members that are not contributing, then upload the file as normal.
NB. The pension schedule should not include any nil contributions
Auto enrolment pension obligations will continue, which will involve a minimum employer pension contribution having to be paid in relation to the furloughed workers but based on the pay they actually receive during that period.
It might be possible to negotiate about any amount of employer pension contributions that are usually paid over and above the automatic enrolment minimum, although that is subject to matters including The Pensions Regulator being flexible about compliance with the usual 60-day consultation period. What is not clear is whether or not these employer pension costs (minimum auto enrolment and any 'extra' pension contributions, if applicable) will be reimbursed as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Information for Members
The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust’s default investment approach spreads your investments so they are less reliant on individual stocks and can benefit from different sources of income.
- Pensions are long-term savings so short-term changes may not affect what you could get when you retire.
- When stock markets fall, the price of buying shares in your pension fund goes down, this means the contributions that you invest every pay period will buy more shares for you.
- If you are getting close to retirement age The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust uses a Lifestyling process. Lifestyling means, that as you get closer to retirement your pension savings will be moved automatically into funds that are deemed less volatile. The idea of this is to protect you from unexpected falls in the stock market that could reduce the pension you receive.
- The investment strategy switches progressively to “protection” assets over the years preceding the present state pension age (65) so as to protect your retirement savings.
- If you’re a member of The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust scheme and your employer continues to pay you when you’re ill or not working, they will also continue to pay their contributions into your pension scheme. They will also deduct your contributions from your pay and pay these into the scheme.
- However, if your pay reduces to the level of Statutory Sick Pay, or the employer stops paying you, after a certain amount of time, then the amounts paid into your pension will reduce, or stop.
- Furloughed workers - Auto enrolment pension obligations will continue, which will involve a minimum employer pension contribution having to be paid in relation to the furloughed workers but based on the pay they actually receive during that period.
To view the value of your pension pot, log in to your Member Client Portal which can be reached at The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust client portal.
If you’re planning to access your pension savings in the near future, you may wish to take extra care.
Choosing what to do with your pension savings is an important decision, so you may want to seek advice or guidance before you decide.
Pension Wise is a service that can help if you are aged 50 or over, and are nearing retirement. You can visit their website for more information. We recommend that you get guidance from Pension Wise when deciding upon your options.
You may also wish to speak to a Lewis Investment financial adviser before you choose what to do. Lewis Investment are a firm of independent financial advisers and are the dedicated advisers of The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust.
As part of the service within The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust you are able to access financial advice and if you would like to speak with an adviser please email mypension@TLWPT.co.uk and a telephone/video meeting can be arranged with a Lewis Investment financial adviser.
Employee Frequently Asked Questions
For more information and answers to more commonly asked questions – look at the Employee Frequently Asked Questions section of The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust website. If you can't find an answer to any query you may have, please do not hesitate to email mypension@TLWPT.co.uk.
Warning - Protect your pension
With the increase in flexibility on how you can use your pensions, scammers could be after yours and they know you can now access your pensions in new ways and will try to lure you with promises of upfront cash and one-off 'deals' with guaranteed high returns. The Pensions Regulator has a section on their website specifically designed to help you protect your pension.