Staff leaving before the scheme pension age

6.1.1 Staff may leave the Civil Service before their scheme pension age and receive pension and/or compensation payments under the Civil Service Pension (CSP) arrangements. The scheme pension age for classicclassic plus and premium members is usually age 60. For nuvos members the scheme pension age is currently age 65. In alpha, a member’s Normal Pension Age (NPA) is the later of their State Pension Age (SPA) or age 65.

You can find information on how to treat staff who are retiring at or after the scheme pension age in Section 7 – ‘Your responsibilities when staff leave at or after the pension age’.

6.1.2 We explain below the various different categories of early departure. When the member is entitled to receive benefits payable under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS), you will be responsible for meeting the costs of these benefits.

6.1.3 Staff leave the CSP arrangements before the scheme pension age for one of three main reasons:

  • Resignation or dismissal - See 6.2 (Resignation or dismissal from the Civil Service),
  • Early departure, including ill health retirement - See 6.3 (Early departure and ill health), and
  • Death - See 6.4 (Death of a Civil Servant).

6.1.4 You must inform the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) of any resignations or terminations of employment at the earliest opportunity, particularly on the death of a member.

6.1.5 A member who leaves before the scheme pension age with less than two years’ qualifying service cannot receive pension benefits unless:

  • they have transferred benefits into the CSP arrangements from a personal pension scheme or other non-occupational pension arrangement, or
  • they have previous service within the CSP arrangements which qualified for preserved benefits (see part 4, chapter I, section 71 of the Pensions Act 1993).

Please note: If a member has preserved benefits and their current period of service is in the alpha scheme (providing the break is over five years) there is no link between the two periods. This only applies if they have had no service in a public sector pension scheme during the break. If the member then leaves with less than two years qualifying service, they are not entitled to pension benefits in the alpha scheme. Different rules may apply to a member if they have transferred benefits into the pension scheme.

Staff transferring to another employer who is part of the CSP arrangements

6.1.6 A member transferring between employers who are both covered by the CSP arrangements will remain in the same scheme as long as the break between employments is 28 days or less. The transfer will be recorded on the member’s pension record via the interface provided by each employer.

6.1.7 It is important that the member’s continuity of service is maintained. As long as the break between employments does not exceed 28 days, the two periods of employment will be treated as continuous for pension and compensation purposes. Any break will be treated as unpaid leave.

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6.1.9 When you transfer a member to another employer covered by the CSP arrangements, you should complete form OGDTF1 (at Annex 6B) and send it to the member’s new employer to advise them which part of the scheme the member belongs to. The form will also confirm the members’ contribution rates for partnership, if applicable, and details of any added years, AVCs, added pension or EPA they may have. The information enables the new employer to take the correct action. Please note:

  • you do not need to send the ODGTF1 form to MyCSP (the employer’s payroll interface will notify MyCSP of the change); and  
  • as detailed in EPN 343, the CSP Trans 1 form is no longer in use. 

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6.1.11 You will need to ensure that you have a contact at the new employer so that you can tie up any loose ends without delay.

Bulk transfers of staff from your employment

6.1.12 A bulk transfer is an arrangement whereby special transfer terms are negotiated to allow pension scheme members to transfer their pension benefits to their new employer’s pension scheme to receive benefits of equivalent value. It often follows from a TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations) transfer or a machinery of Government change.

It covers accrued pension benefits for all the staff that chose to transfer past service to the new pension scheme.

6.1.13 Section 12 – ‘Compulsory bulk transfers of staff’ gives you detailed guidance on what to do if you are considering a compulsory transfer of staff.

Recovering debts from awards

6.1.14 There are certain circumstances where you may recover a debt from an award when a member is leaving early. The Treasury’s document, “Managing Public Money,” ( explains how and when to recover overpayments. The debt you propose to set off must be legally recoverable, and you may wish to check this with your legal adviser before taking any action. You must explore all other routes to recover the debt before approaching the Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office).

6.1.15 You must consult the Scheme Manager at an early stage. They will give you written authority if they think it is appropriate for you to recover the debt from the member’s award. You will then need to liaise closely with the Scheme Administrator to ensure the correct action is taken.

6.1.16 The Scheme Manager will only give authority to you to exercise set off of a debt where you send them an application accompanied by either:

  • an acknowledgement, signed and dated by the employee of the existence and exact amount of the debt (that is, the amount to be set off against a CSP or CSCS benefit); or
  • a copy of an enforceable order of a County Court or other appropriate court, or in consequence of an award of an arbitrator or, in Scotland, an arbiter to be appointed (failing agreement between the parties) by the sheriff.

6.1.17 You must take care to ensure that any acknowledgement of the debt by the debtor does not constitute a charge or assignment of benefit, which is unlawful under section 5(1) of the Superannuation Act 1972. This states: ‘(1) Any assignment (or, in Scotland, assignation) of or charge on, and any agreement to assign or charge, any benefit payable under a scheme made under section 1 of this Act will be void’.

6.1.18 This also applies where you seek to set off an overpayment of CSCS benefits while an appeal against refusal to grant ill health retirement is in progress (see ‘Paying CSCS benefits while an appeal against refusal to grant Ill Health Retirement is in progress’ (paragraph 6.3.8 to 6.3.11) for details).

Suggested form of acknowledgement

6.1.19 The suggested form of acknowledgement is as follows:

I [member’s name] hereby acknowledge that as at (date) I owe [name of department/organisation] the sum of £ [amount] in respect of [nature of debt].

Signed [member’s signature] Date [date of signing]

6.1.20 Once the Scheme Manager, has given you written authority to set off the debt, you will need to copy this to the Scheme Administrator who will confirm to the member the amount of the set off and its effect on benefits under the scheme.

Duty of care when processing quotations and awards

6.1.21 You have a duty of care in ensuring that your staff who are members of the CSP arrangements receive accurate quotations of pension benefits.

6.1.22 You must have robust procedures in place between yourself, your payroll (or payroll provider) and the Scheme Administrator for transmitting data accurately (see Section 8 – ‘Compendia, payroll and data responsibilities’ for more guidance). You must build in appropriate deadlines for the individual stages of each process to avoid delaying any resulting award. You need to consider the length of time it takes to communicate with the member regarding their leaving options. If you are offering exit terms, for example, you will need to supply the member with a quotation of their pension benefits. Section 6.3 (‘Early departure and ill health’) provides more details.

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Forfeiting benefits

6.1.28 In exceptional circumstances, members forfeit their rights to benefits under the CSP arrangements. They automatically forfeit their benefits if convicted of treason. The Minister for the Civil Service may decide to withhold a member’s benefits, either completely or partly, if they are convicted of:

  • offences under the Official Secrets Act 1911; or
  • an offence connected to the civil servant’s employment that a government Minister certifies as gravely injurious to the State or liable to lead to serious loss of confidence in the public service.

6.1.29 You must not take any action without advice from the Scheme Manager.

6.1.30 Where a potential beneficiary is being investigated and/or has been arrested for such a crime, any pension or benefit payment should be temporarily suspended until either a conviction has been made, the investigation/prosecution is dropped, or there is an acquittal – in which case the benefits may then be paid. You must inform the Scheme Administrator at the earliest opportunity to withhold payment.

6.1.31 Forfeiture may also apply where a member has a monetary obligation arising from a criminal or negligent act in connection with their employment.

6.1.32 Anyone who is convicted of the manslaughter or murder of a scheme member cannot receive any benefits from the scheme as a result of the death. You must contact the Scheme Manager at the earliest opportunity. They will advise you on the process and will take things forward on your behalf.

Who makes the decision on whether a member has forfeited their benefits?

6.1.33 The Minister for the Civil Service reserves this function. In practice, the Scheme Manager will liaise with the Minister’s office and let you know the outcome.

4 January 2022
Last updated:
30 November 2022