This information applies to anyone who has left the alpha scheme and then re-joined. This can be as a result of resigning and being re-employed, or opting out and then re-joining alpha at a later date.

Will everybody who re-joins alpha be treated in the same way?

No. How your pensions are treated will depend on:

  • whether or not you have some pension benefits retained in alpha
  • how long the break in your scheme membership was.

Do you have some pension benefits in alpha?

Yes You will have been awarded a preserved pension if you left with more than two years’ service (or have brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement). If you still have this preserved pension, you have pension benefits in alpha.

The length of your break in membership (see question 2) will also influence what will happen to your alpha pension on re-joining.

No – you will not have any benefits in alpha if:

  • you left with less than two years’ service and took a refund of your contributions
  • you transferred your pension benefits into another scheme.

You will be treated as a new entrant when you join alpha.

How long was the break in your scheme membership?

  • A break of five years or less is a qualifying break.

Re-joining alpha after a qualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will be automatically linked to your new period of service.

You will join alpha and your previous preserved pension will be cancelled. Some adjustments, based on prices, will be applied as if you had continued to be an active member during your time out of the scheme.

You will then start adding to your pension again.

  • A break of five or more years is a disqualifying break.

Re-joining alpha after a disqualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will remain preserved.

You will join alpha as a new entrant and start building up a new and separate alpha pension.

Re-joining and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

This section only applies to members who were in the PCSPS (classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos) before 01 April 2015, and then moved from that scheme into alpha.

It does not cover every aspect of the scheme; full details are set out in the scheme rules, which are the legal basis of the scheme. You can find copies of the PCSPS scheme rules on the Civil Service Pensions website.

Nothing in this guide can override the scheme rules. Every effort has been made to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the rules will apply. This guide is based on the rules current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the rules will not change in the future. You should be aware that tax rates and limits are subject to change.

If this section applies to you, please read it carefully to understand what happens to both parts of your pension if you re-join the scheme.

What happens if I re-join alpha?

If you re-join alpha after leaving, and also have some service in the PCSPS (classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos), how your pension is treated will depend on:

  • whether or not you have preserved benefits
  • how long your break was.

Just like members who only have alpha benefits, you will need to have a preserved pension in alpha or in PCSPS, otherwise you will be treated as a new entrant when you re-join.

I have a preserved pension and have re-joined more than five years later. What happens to my pension?

Re-joining alpha after a disqualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will not be changed, and will stay as it is.

You will join alpha as a new entrant and build up a new and separate alpha pension. Your PCSPS benefits will stay preserved too.

If during the period that you were not a member of alpha or PCSPS you worked for and joined the pension arrangement of another public service employer, special conditions may apply. Your employer will be able to tell you more about this. 

I have a preserved pension and have re-joined in five years or less. What happens to my pension?

Re-joining alpha after a qualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will be automatically linked to your new period of service.

You will join alpha and your previous preserved alpha pension will be cancelled and re-calculated to include any price changes; it will be as if you had continued to be an active member during your time out of the scheme.

You will then start adding to your pension again.

Your PCSPS pension, immediately before you moved to alpha, will be cancelled too. The service (or benefits if you were in nuvos) will be banked again. Your pension benefits will be worked out again the next time you leave.

Any benefits based on a final salary related to a classic, classic plus, or premium pension, or a nuvos pension with final salary elements will be worked out using your pensionable earnings or final pensionable earnings using the rules for that section of the scheme, when you next leave.

Published:
14 December 2021
Last updated:
29 June 2022