Emerging trends in pensions law

During the past 12 months, we’ve observed some notable changes in employment law and consequently several trends have come to light. Higher profile precedents have also been thrown into the public sphere via the media, bringing extra workload and challenges for pensions solicitors.

Auto-enrolment

Rolled out in 2012 for larger companies – but compulsory for all firms from 2018 – auto-enrolment has been a well-advertised and long debated topic, meaning employees are automatically enrolled into their company’s pension scheme. An employee can opt out of the scheme if they wish but they must do so within one month to avoid losing anything they’ve already paid in.

For lawyers, pensions law is technical, highly regulated and often closely intertwined with tax law. This means a lot of time spent reading and interpreting complex statute books. A keen eye and ability to understand highly technical information is essential.

Diplomatic negotiations with employee/trade union representatives often materialise over proposed amendments to employees’ pension plans. Clients are likely to call every day for advice on small issues such as when to pay funds out of a pension scheme. As a pensions solicitor, it’s important to be personable and able to explain complex law in easy terms without jargon.

Pension insurance products

As a pensions lawyer, it’s vital to have experience in assisting clients in securing their pension scheme’s accrued benefits with insurance companies by buy-in and buy-out contracts.

As pension legislation continues to evolve, solicitors will be key players in helping business clients to understand what the changes mean for them, and ensuring they’re able to make the best decisions about retirement policies for their own employees.

Pensions law and Brexit

It seems safe to say that Brexit is unlikely to have a major impact on UK pensions legislation as many of the EU requirements already embedded in UK law are beneficial, such as equalisation of benefits. However, the result does allow future UK pensions law to potentially move away from any unfavourable EU laws currently on the horizon – there may be scope to pick and choose. However, this in itself means law firms will undoubtedly be consulted on all kinds of Brexit-related employment law issues for the foreseeable future.

From large law firms with a wide spectrum of specialisms, to smaller boutique organisations specialising in pension law specifically, there will certainly be plenty of work to go around. That we can be sure of. Our jobs board team are already reporting an increased range of pension jobs specialisms since last year.

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