Date posted: 01/02/2012
Audience: HR Managers & HR staff
Action: To note requirements relating to releasing files to the Scheme Management Executive (SME)
This notice is issued by MyCSP on behalf of the Cabinet Office
- Chapter 9 of the Employer Pension Guide sets out the background to the IDR process. In summary, section 50 of the Pensions Act 1995 requires all occupational pension schemes to have a process in place for dealing with pension complaints. IDR covers solely pension matters, not employment ones. However, pension entitlement is interlinked with employment, so employers may need to be involved in the IDR process.
- The PCSPS has a two stage process. My Civil Service Pension (MyCSP), as scheme administrator, deals with first stage appeals. The Cabinet Office’s Scheme Management Executive (SME) deals with appeals that go to the second stage – that is, where the complainant disagrees with MyCSP’s first stage decision. Final recourse, where the individual remains unhappy, is to the Pensions Ombudsman. Beyond that, individuals can appeal to the High Court on points of law.
- To carry out investigations at second stage, SME will usually need to see the original personal files that employers hold for the employee/scheme member. The terms of the Participation Agreement (Schedule B) require employers to release records to SME in these (and other) circumstances. Historically, employers have passed files to SME through MyCSP. In future SME’s Pension Complaints Team will go directly to employers for files, as they already do with some employers. In some cases, MyCSP may still ask for employer files.
- SME realises that some HR teams may have concerns about releasing files to SME because of requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 (the DPA). SME’s legal advice is that neither employers nor SME are in breach of the DPA when processing data in relation to IDR cases. Annex A explains the requirements for lawful data processing under the DPA and gives more details about why SME needs all files.
- In summary:
- SME is legally bound to make second stage IDR decisions and establish members’ legal entitlements;
- SME is satisfied that examining original personal files for the purposes of investigating second stage IDR appeals is necessary, and fully meets the conditions set out in the DPA;
- this applies to both ‘personal’ and ‘sensitive personal’ data and where the individual has given full consent (members give consent for employers and SME to process files on the IDR appeal form); and
- the DPA does not apply to employees/members who have died, so there is no need to get consent from any person making an appeal on behalf of a deceased member.
- Finally, a note on file handling procedures and security. When sending SME files, employers must make sure they are securely packaged – preferably in strong plastic envelopes and double wrapped, or in well sealed boxes. Sending files by courier is preferable. SME returns all files to a named individual by courier. Employers should only send scanned/copied files where original paper files no longer exist. SME logs all files on a database as they arrive and keeps them in locked cabinets when not in use. No staff other than members of the Complaints Team have access to employers’ files.
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