FAQ – Employers and Pension Scheme Administrators

 

When do I need to have a pension scheme in place for my employees?

The table below sets out when the requirements will apply:

Category of employer  No. of employees  Date requirements apply
Enterprise 251 + 1 August 2021
Large 101 -250 1 July 2022
Medium 51-100 1 July 2025
Small 15-50 1 July 2026
Micro 14 or less 1 July 2027

Do I have to provide access to a pension scheme for all of my employees?

No. The Act only requires you to make a pension scheme available to eligible employees.

An eligible employee: 

  • is over the age of 15; 
  • has been employed by you for one year or more; and 
  • has gross earnings from that employment of £10,000 or more per year. 

If not eligible immediately, an employee will become eligible as and when they meet the 3 requirements.

Do I have to provide access to a pension scheme for employees who work part-time, are employed on a ‘zero-hours’ contract or are on a career break? 

If the employee meets the eligibility criteria, you are required to make a pension scheme available, regardless of the employee’s employment status. 

Does the pension scheme have to be located in Gibraltar?  

Yes. A pension plan is defined in Section 2 of the Act. In summary, the pension plan must be one of the following: 

  • An occupational pension scheme which is either registered with or authorised by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission ("GFSC"); or  
  • A personal pension scheme which is operated by a firm which holds the necessary permission from the GFSC; or  
  • A pension scheme trust or plan established by the HM Government of Gibraltar. 

I already have a pension scheme in place for my employees. Do I need to make any changes?

Not necessarily. You should review the existing scheme to confirm that it complies with the requirements of the Act. If the pension scheme does comply, you do not need to make any changes. You will, however, need to complete the registration process.

By when do I need to apply to register the details of the pension scheme with the Pensions Commissioner?

Within 90 days of the date you become subject to the requirements of the Act using this form. Note that if you operate more than one pension scheme, a separate form should be used for each scheme.

Our pension scheme is already registered or authorised by the GFSC. Do we also need to register it with the Pensions Commissioner?

Yes. The functions of the GFSC and the Pensions Commissioner are established under separate and distinct pieces of legislation.

In its role as the Pensions Commissioner, the responsibility of the GFSC is to supervise compliance, by employers and administrators, with the Private Sector Pensions Act 2019 and, in time, further regulations made under it.

The role of the GFSC under the Financial Services Act 2019 (FSA) is to ensure compliance with the FSA and regulations made under it in accordance with the GFSC’s regulatory objectives. Principally, this involves supervision of the operators of, and advisers to, pension schemes established in Gibraltar.

Can I apply to the Pensions Commissioner for additional time in which to comply with the requirements of the Act?

The Pensions Commissioner has the power to extend any time limit under the Act if it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting the extension. This power will only be used in specific circumstances and a case-by-case basis. 

If you need additional time to comply with any of your obligations in the Act, you will need to submit a request in writing, specifying what extension you need and the reason(s) why you are making the request.  This request can be submitted via [email protected]

Can I appoint a specialist firm to advise me and/or to handle all of these requirements for me?

Yes. There a number of regulated firms in Gibraltar who will be able to assist you. A list of Pension Advisers and Pension Scheme Operators can be found on our website. Please note, however, that you as the employer remain primarily responsible for your obligations under the Act.

When will I receive confirmation that a scheme has been registered?

The Pensions Commissioner will review your application for registration and may ask for further information if required. Subject to this, the Pensions Commissioner is required to confirm that you have complied (or not) with the Act within 21 days of receipt of your application.

Are there any fees payable to the Pensions Commissioner?

There is no fee for registration.  An annual fee will be payable starting from the date that you become subject to the requirements of the Act. The amount payable will depend upon the categorisation of the employer and is set out in the Fees Regulations. Annual fees are imposed on a ‘per employer’ basis, not a ‘per scheme’ basis, since some employers may have multiple schemes.

Annual fees are reduced pro rata for the first year of registration (for employers already operating prior to the requirements applying), and are payable once the PC receives the registration form. After this, annual fees are due on 1 April each year and are payable in advance. The Pensions Commissioner will issue invoices as and when required.

New employers setting up in Gibraltar (after the requirements apply) will be charged a pro-rata annual fee.

Do my employees have to join the pension scheme?

No. An employee may opt-out. Should they choose to do so, they must complete an Opt-out Form, which should then be submitted to the Pensions Commissioner by the employer.

What happens if my employees want to opt-out but do not complete the opt-out forms?

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all eligible employees who wish to opt-out complete the Opt-out Form and that these are sent to the Pensions Commissioner. If the form is not completed the Pensions Commissioner will assume that the eligible employee is a member of the scheme and that you are making the requisite minimum contributions.

What happens if all of my employees choose to opt-out?

In this case, the Act does not require you to have a pension scheme in place. Please note, however, that an employee has the right to change their mind and opt-in at a later date. On this occurring, you would be required to have a pension scheme in place.

Can I offer membership of a pension scheme to employees who do not yet fulfil the eligibility requirements under the Act, for example after completing just six-months service?

Yes. The Act sets minimum requirements. It is always open to an employer to provide enhanced terms to any employee.  

What if there is a difference between the Scheme rules and the requirements of the Private Sector Pensions Act?

The Act imposes minimum requirements, in particular in relation to contribution rates. You may (due to obligations under an employee’s contract of employment or otherwise) establish or maintain a pension scheme which provides superior benefits and which may have higher than minimum contribution rates. 

The Act makes it clear that at no time should the requirements of the Act and any regulations made under it be construed to prevent the registration or administration of a pension scheme that provides pension benefits or ancillary benefits more advantageous to members than those required by the Act or any regulations made under it.

What is the minimum contribution, as an employer, I need to make?

The Act sets a minimum of 2% of gross earnings (i.e. basic pay before deductions). However, you may decide to, or be obliged under an employee’s contract of employment or the rules of the pension scheme, to contribute more. 

If you wish to provide a non-contributory pension scheme, you may also agree to pay an employee’s minimum contribution on their behalf. 

If an employee wishes to contribute more than the minimum required under the Act, do I have to match the greater amount?

No, this is not a requirement under the Act. However, the employee’s contract of employment or the rules of the pension scheme may require this.

How do I notify the Pensions Commissioner of any changes to the information submitted at registration?

Post registration, you are required to notify the PC of any changes to the information (provided in registration form) within 30 days of an event occurring. Examples of these are any: 

  • new employee being employed by you; 
  • termination of the employment or redundancy of any employee; 
  • material changes in the terms of employment of any employee, which relate to or impact the employee's pension entitlement;  
  • employee choosing to opt-in to the pension scheme, having previously chosen to opt-out;
  • employee choosing to opt-out of the pension scheme, having chosen to previously opt-in; 
  • material changes to the terms of the pension scheme.

 It would be acceptable to notify the PC of these changes at the end of each month, rather than piecemeal.