Pensions at Leeds

As a member of our staff you have access to excellent pension benefits. After pay, pension is arguably the most valuable benefit for us all, even though retirement may seem a long way off. Think about how important your pay is to you today; that's how important your pension will be to you when you retire.

You might want to join a pension scheme because:

  • it’s an income for life when you retire;
  • the pension will increase annually in line with inflation (with the exception of the DC Plan where you can choose the type of pension you want);
  • you get a tax free cash sum on retirement;
  • there are early retirement options;
  • you get automatic life assurance cover based on your current salary;
  • there’ll be a pension for your spouse or dependant and/or children on your death (with the exception of the DC Plan where you can choose whether or not you want to include this benefit);
  • there are ill health early retirement benefits if you become too ill to work;
  • the University pays significant employer contributions; 
  • you’ll  be able to increase scheme benefits by paying extra contributions (additional voluntary contributions (AVCs));
  • you might be able to transfer benefits from previous pension schemes to increase the benefits you get.

The cost to you isn’t as much as you might think:

  • You get tax relief at your highest rate on your employee contribution;
  • If you contribute through the salary sacrifice (Pensions+) route your national insurance contributions are reduced even more.

In addition, you might also receive the basic state pension; more details can be found on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/new-state-pension/overview.

Your retirement might seem like a long way off, but you should also consider the cover the pension scheme provides for your family if anything happened to you.

Scheme options

Which pension scheme you're eligible to join will depend on your type of contract of employment.

There are three main pension schemes offered to staff:

  • The Universities Superannuation Scheme;
  • The University of Leeds Defined Contribution Plan;
  • The University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme. 

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

This is a national scheme for academic and academic related (professional and managerial) staff. If you’re eligible, you’ll automatically join the scheme from your first day of employment.

University of Leeds Defined Contribution Plan (DC Plan)

If you’re a member of support staff and you meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll automatically be put into this scheme. You can find more information on our DC plan page.  

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme Career Average Section (PAS CARE)

This is an alternative pension scheme for support staff at the University. You won’t automatically join this scheme, but you can opt to do so if you meet certain criteria.

You can find more detailed information about the scheme benefits on our PAS CARE page.  

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme Final Salary Section (PAS FS)

This section of PAS has now closed to new members. Existing members can find further details on our PAS final salary page.

NHS

If you’re employed in a clinical role at the University and have been a previous member of the NHS scheme in the last 12 months, you may be able to join the NHS pension scheme. You’ll find more information about the NHS pension scheme on their website.

Please contact the Pensions department for further details on 0113 343 4139.

Universities Superannuation Scheme

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is a national scheme for academic and academic-related (professional and managerial) staff.

Full details of the scheme and its benefits can be found on the USS website.

About the scheme

Changes to the USS scheme apply from 1 April 2016; for details of the benefits please visit the USS website.

Contribution rates

The contribution rate is paid as a percentage of your pensionable salary. The current employer rate is 18%, and the employee rate is 8%.

Opting out

You can opt out of the scheme once you’ve been enrolled.  The process and forms are available on the USS website.

Review of USS benefits

From 1 April 2016 USS has implemented a new scheme structure for all members. For further information on the new scheme and to keep up to date with the changes please visit USS for the future, a new dedicated source of information for employers and members.

Defined Contribution Pension Plan

If you're a member of support staff and you meet the eligibility criteria, you'll automatically be put into the Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DC Plan) if you're not already in a pension scheme. If you're a new member of support staff, this'll happen three months after you join the University.

About the scheme

The DC Plan is a defined contribution scheme. You and the University pay a percentage of your salary into the scheme, and the money’s invested by The People’s Pension to give you a pot of money when you retire.

More details can be found in the Plan booklet which you can download below, and from The People’s Pension website.

Main benefits of joining

  • The DC Plan can provide you with an income for life when you retire; 
  • You can get a tax free cash sum on retirement;
  • There are early retirement options;
  • You benefit from automatic life assurance cover of 5 times your pensionable salary;
  • There’ll be a return of your investment pot if you die before retirement;
  • There’s an income protection scheme if you become too ill to work;
  • The University pays employer contributions;
  • You’ll  be able to increase scheme benefits by paying extra contributions;
  • You could be able to transfer benefits from previous pension schemes to increase the benefits you get.

And the cost to you isn't as much as you might think:

  • You get tax relief at your highest rate on your employee contribution;
  • If you contribute through the salary sacrifice (Pensions+) route your national insurance contributions are reduced.

Eligibility

You’ll automatically become a scheme member after you’ve worked at the University for 3 months if you:

  • are not already a member of another pension scheme at the University;
  • are over  22;
  • are under state pension age;
  • earn more that £10,000 a year (£833 a month).

Contribution rates

You’ll pay 3% of your pensionable salary into the DC Plan, and the University will pay an employer contribution of 6%. If you choose to pay more, the University will also increase its contribution. The maximum University contribution is 10%.

If you’d like to pay more into your pension, or talk to someone about it, e-mail the Pensions department.

Transferring a pension into the DC Plan

You may be able to transfer benefits from DC pension arrangements you’ve had before into your fund. If you’d like to do this, e-mail the Pensions department to ask for a Transfer Enquiry Form.

Opting out

Your joiner pack, which will be sent to your home address by People’s Pension when you join the DC Plan, contains details of how to opt out of the scheme. You might not get a refund of your contributions if you opt out more than a month after joining the scheme.

Rejoining

You can rejoin the scheme after opting out if you change your mind, or if your circumstances change. Contact the Pensions department and they’ll send you an application pack.

Retirement

If you're over 55, you might be able to access the funds you have built up with The People’s Pension. You’ll need to contact them to get details.

To help you decide whether to use this fund to provide an income, or whether to take it as a cash sum, you might need the help of a financial advisor, or you could use the services offered by the government website.

Life Assurance cover

If you’re an active member of the scheme and you die, your dependant(s) will get a lump sum of 5 times your pensionable salary. You can download and complete a Member Wishes Form below to tell us who you’d like to get the lump sum payment.   

Income Protection Scheme

If you’ve been in the DC Plan for more than 12 months, and you’re off work ill for more than 26 weeks, you might qualify for payments under the income protection scheme, which provides an income of 50% of your salary.  For more information please email the Pensions department.

Support staff pension induction course

To help you understand more about the benefits provided by the scheme and your alternative pension options as a University employee, the Pensions department runs a monthly pension induction course.  You can email them for a booking form.

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance (PAS) Scheme CARE section

This is an alternative to the DC Plan for support staff at the University, who can opt to join if they meet certain criteria.

About the scheme

The Career Average (CARE) section of PAS is a defined benefit scheme, where the benefits built up are worked out using a set formula.  

Joining the Scheme

You can opt to join the scheme if you meet the eligibility conditions below and you’ve been employed by the University for less than 12 months, but you won’t be put into the scheme automatically. Please e-mail the Pensions department for an opt in pack.

If you don’t join within the first 12 months of your employment, you might not be given a further opportunity to join this scheme.

You can download a summary of the main benefits of the CARE section of PAS below, and more detailed information can be found in the scheme booklet, also available to download below. Each year you will receive a statement summarising the benefits you have built up in the scheme at the end of the scheme year, which is 31 March.

Death in service benefits

If you die while you’re an active member of the scheme, a lump sum of three times your pensionable salary will be payable to your dependant nominee. Please download and complete the Member Wishes form below to provide a guide as to who you would like the lump sum to be paid to. 

A spouse’s or adult dependant’s pension may also be payable. This would automatically be paid to your spouse but, if you’re unmarried but have an adult who is financially dependent on you, you should download and complete the potential dependant form below.

Increasing your scheme benefits – additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)

To increase the value of your benefits on retirement, you can pay extra contributions to the scheme. These are known as additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).

AVCs are a very useful way of filling a gap in your pension benefits if you don’t have a lot of benefits from other sources, or you could to use AVC’s to enable you to retire early. They're also a very tax efficient way of improving benefits. They’re deducted from your pay before tax is calculated, so you get tax relief at your highest rate, eg an AVC contribution of £100 only costs £80 to a basic rate tax payer.

The AVC arrangement offered by PAS allows you a choice of investments. You can download the AVC booklet below for details.

If you're considering paying AVCs, please e-mail the Pensions department to request an AVC application form.

Pension estimate

If you’re considering retirement, you might want more details about the benefits you’ve built up in the scheme and the options available to you.  Please e-mail the Pensions department, giving an idea of your planned retirement date, and they’ll provide an estimate for you.

Support staff pension induction course

To help you understand more about the benefits provided by the scheme and your pension options as a University employee, the Pensions department runs a monthly pension induction course.  Please e-mail the Pensions department for a booking form.

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance (PAS) Scheme Final Salary section

This section of the PAS scheme is now closed to new joiners, but existing members continue to build up further benefits.

About this section of the scheme

The Final Salary section of PAS is a defined benefit scheme, where the benefits built up are worked out using a set formula based on the number of years and days you have as a scheme member and on your final pensionable salary at the date you leave the scheme.

You can download a summary of the main benefits of the Final Salary section of PAS below, and more detailed information can be found in the scheme booklet, also available to download below. Each year you'll receive a statement proving details of the estimated benefits you'll build up if you remain in the scheme until age 65.

Death in service benefits

If you die while you're an active member of the scheme, a lump sum of 3 times your pensionable salary will be payable to your dependant nominee.  You can download and complete the Member Wishes Form below to provide a guide as to who you would like the lump sum to be paid to. 

A spouse’s or adult dependant’s pension may also be payable.  This would automatically be paid to your spouse but, if you’re unmarried but have an adult who is financially dependent on you, you should complete the Potential Dependant Form below.

Increasing your scheme benefits – additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)

To increase the value of your benefits on retirement, you can pay extra contributions to the scheme.  These are known as additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).

AVCs are a very useful way of filling a gap in your pension benefits if you don’t have a lot of benefits from other sources, or you could use AVC’s to enable you to retire early.  AVCs are also a very tax efficient way of improving benefits. They’re deducted from your pay before tax is calculated and so you get tax relief at your highest rate, eg an AVC contribution of £100 only costs £80 to a basic rate tax payer.

The AVC arrangement offered by PAS allows you a choice of investments.  You can download the AVC booklet below for details.

Please e-mail the Pensions department to request an AVC application form.

Pension estimate

If you’re considering retirement, you might want more details about the benefits you’ve built up in the scheme, and the options available to you.  Please e-mail the Pensions department, giving an idea of your planned retirement date, and they’ll provide an estimate for you.   

Pensions+

Pensions+ is a way for you to further reduce the cost of paying your pension contributions, and it can be applied to all of our pension schemes.

Pensions+ is a salary sacrifice scheme which has been given approval by HM Revenue & Customs.  It means that your pension contributions can be deducted from your salary before national insurance contributions are calculated.

You already get tax relief at your highest rate.  By contributing to the scheme through Pensions+, you can make even more of a saving on your national insurance contributions.

For examples of the savings and detailed information about the scheme, you can download the Pensions+ booklets on PAS/USS and the DC Plan below.

When you join USS or PAS, you’ll automatically pay your pension contributions through Pensions+ if you meet the minimum earnings criteria, unless you ask not to.

If you’ve joined the DC Plan, you’ll only contribute via Pensions+ once you’ve been in the scheme for more than 3 months.

IMPORTANT: If you're a member of PAS or USS and you pay into the scheme through Pensions+, you won’t be able to get a refund of your contributions if you leave within 2 years. You must opt out of Pensions+ within 3 months of joining the scheme to retain the right to a refund.

You can still be a member of a pension scheme even if you opt out of Pensions+.

Contact the Pensions department if you'd like a Pensions+ opt out form.

Leaving the pension scheme

If you leave the University or decide to opt out of a pension scheme, you'll stop paying contributions. Contributions you've made may either be paid back to you, held as benefits in the scheme until you retire, or you might be able to move them to another scheme, depending on how long you've been a member.

You can opt out of any of our schemes at any time, and if you leave the University’s employment you’ll automatically leave the scheme and stop paying contributions. If you’re a member of the DC Plan, you can choose to continue paying your own contributions, but the University contributions will end.

Depending on which scheme you're in and how long you've been paying in, you might be able to get a refund of your contributions; otherwise you'll need to either leave the benefits where they are or move them to another suitable pension scheme.

If you're in USS or PAS and have been paying in to the scheme for:

  • less than 3 months: you’ll receive a refund of your contributions, minus a deduction for tax and national insurance, or you can opt for leaving service benefits or transfer the benefits to another suitable pension arrangement;
  • less than 2 years: you might be able to have a refund of your contributions minus a deduction for tax and national insurance, or you can opt for or leaving service benefits or transfer the benefits to another suitable pension arrangement;
  • more than 2 years: you’ll be entitled to leaving service benefits or you can transfer the benefits to another suitable pension arrangement.

If you're a member of the DC Plan and you've been paying in for more than 1 month, you'll be entitled to leaving service benefits or you can transfer your fund to another suitable pension arrangement.

To find out more information on calculation and payment of the benefits on leaving, take a look at our scheme specific pages.

You’ll receive a letter from the scheme once you’ve left. This will show the benefits you’ve built up while you were a member and will give details of any options available to you.

How to opt out

Our scheme specific pages will give you details on how to opt out of each scheme.

Because of pensions legislation, the University might have to put you back into a scheme in the future, but you’ll be told about this in advance.

Transfer option

You might be able to transfer the benefits you’ve built up to a new employer’s pension scheme or to a personal pension arrangement. The transfer value would be the capital value of your deferred benefits at the date you transfer.

Contact details

If you’ve got any queries or need any further information, contact details for the schemes are as follows:

If you’re a PAS scheme member, contact the Pensions department either by email or by post to Pensions Department, EC Stoner Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT.

If you’re in the DC Plan, you’ll need to contact The People's Pension.

If you’re a USS member, you should contact USS.

For NHS enquiries, contact NHS Pensions.

Pre-retirement course

If you're considering retirement, it might help you to attend one of the University's pre-retirement courses.

The Pensions department runs a half day pre-retirement course twice a year, usually in March and September, to help you plan for your retirement, and all members of staff who are over the age of 60 are invited to attend because it’s a useful planning tool in the run up to retirement.

The course covers:

  • Health & wellbeing in retirement
  • University pension benefits
  • State pension benefits 
  • Financial matters

Places are limited so, once you receive your invitation, send your acceptance form back as soon as possible to reserve a place. You’ll only be able to attend the course once.

If you’re retiring before the age of 60, you’ll need to let the Pensions department know because you won’t automatically be invited.

Retirement

There's no longer a specific age when the University will ask you to retire, but there are certain things you'll need to do if you're considering it.

The normal retirement age under the rules of USS, PAS and the DC Plan is 65, although you may continue to work at the University beyond this age. If you do decide to go on working, you’ll still pay pension contributions, the University will continue to pay employer contributions, and you’ll build up more benefits in the scheme until you do retire.

To get your pension benefits you:

  • must be over the age of 55;
  • can be any age if you've been granted an ill health retirement pension;
  • will need the approval of the University if you're in PAS and want to receive payment of your pension benefits before age 65.

USS and PAS: arranging for payment of your pension benefits

For both the USS and PAS schemes:

  • you need to leave the service of the University to access pension benefits;
  • you can ask for a retirement quote from the Pensions department before you make a final decision about your retirement date;
  • to retire you need to hand in your letter of resignation to your School/Service, giving the appropriate period of notice;
  • once you’ve decided what date you want to retire, you’ll need to let the Pensions department know and they’ll arrange for the payment of your benefits.

In addition, if you’re in the PAS scheme and you want to retire before you’re 65, you’ll need the University’s consent. Contact the Pensions department and they’ll make arrangements for the University to consider your retirement request; once it’s been agreed, you can decide what date you want to retire.

DC Plan: arranging for payment of your pension benefits

You can contact The People's Pension, who'll arrange for a quotation of benefits to be provided to you. You don’t have to leave the University to access these benefits, but you must be over age 55.

There’s more information on our DC Plan pages.

USS Flexible retirement

Under USS rules it is possible for you take a portion of your benefits as long as you also reduce the number of hours you work. You can take up to 80% of your benefits as long as you reduce your hours by at least 20%.

However, you need to have discussed the change in hours and had this agreed by your Head of School/Service before contacting USS about this, as it’s a change to your terms and conditions of employment and not an automatic right.

See the link below for more details about the flexible retirement benefits on the USS website.