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TUC warns that new pension system changes may cost employees

Leading employment union the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has argued that employees may have to foot the bill for companies seeking out advice on the automatic enrolment scheme.

The TUC has warned that companies are likely to look to consultants to offer advice on how to implement the new system, which gives employers a new duty to automatically enroll staff in a pension. The news could be particularly significant for anybody who has an existing annuity agreement in place.

The changes, which begin from this October for the largest employers and finish in 2016 with the smallest employers, are designed to offer greater financial security for employees.

However, the TUC argues that in the process of changing over to the new national pension scheme, called the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), employers will use consultants to gain clarity over their legal obligations.

While many of the largest employers will be absorbing the costs of seeking outside guidance, some small and medium sized businesses may attempt to offset the cost by adding a levy to pension contributions. This is on top of pension provider charges.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has argued that fees for advice taken out of pension contributions could lead to employers failing to meet rules on minimum contribution rates.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “It is completely wrong that staff who pay in auto-enrolment pensions should have to meet the employer's costs of making sure that they obey the law. This is a cost that should fall on the business as a whole.

“Particularly in low-paid sectors where staff change jobs frequently, those unlucky enough to work for employers using consultancy charging could find a big chunk of their pension going to consultants, rather than to provide retirement income.”

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