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LEGAL UPDATE – Pensions Bill amended to prevent pensions discrimination

Pensions Bill amended to prevent pensions discrimination  

As the Pensions Bill received its second reading in Parliament this month, it has emerged that the Government intends to introduce an amendment which will prevent employers asking applicants about their pension arrangements at job interviews and provide tough sanctions if individuals are discriminated against because they intend to opt-in to the new personal account scheme. 

The Bill was passed unopposed, but the Government signalled its intention to table an amendment at the committee stage to outlaw ‘pension discrimination’.  

The proposal flows from concerns that employers could undermine the new personal accounts system scheduled for 2012, which will force employers to contribute 3% of an employee’s earnings to a personal account unless an employee opts out.  

Concerns have been raised by MPs and some unions that by quizzing candidates at the interview about opting out, employers could implement a policy of hiring only those candidates who wish to opt out of the system. 

Some employer’s associations, including the Engineering Employers’ Federation have expressed their opposition to any proposed measures which would allow job applicants who were asked whether they want to save in a pension scheme, such as personal accounts, to make a claim to an employment tribunal. But the TUC argue that such a measure is vital to the success of the proposed personal accounts system.

 

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