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Who must report

Important

Early draft of the code of practice

This code is not in force yet. It is an early version for the new code of practice consultation.

To give us feedback on issues such as the design, usability and navigation of this code, email us at webfeedback@tpr.gov.uk.

You can also read more information about the consultation.

Published: 17 March 2021

Certain people (reporters) are required to report breaches of the law to us where they have a reasonable cause to believe that:WH1

  • a legal duty which is relevant to the administration of a scheme has not been, or is not being, complied with
  • the failure to comply is likely to be of material significance to us in the exercise of any of our functions

We interpret ‘administration’ widely in the context of the duty to report breaches of law. Our interpretation is broader than day-to-day administrative tasks such as record-keeping, dealing with membership movements, calculating benefits and preparing accounts. It also includes considering investment policy and investment management, and the custody of invested assets in all schemes and scheme funding in defined benefit schemes. Broadly, our interpretation covers anything that could affect members’ benefits or the ability of members and others to access information they are entitled to.

Who has the duty to report?

Trustees

Each trustee. If the trustee is a corporate body, the requirement to report falls on the directors.

Public service scheme pension boards

Each member of the pension board of a public service pension scheme.

Scheme manager

This includes managers of public service pension schemes and personal pension schemes where a direct payment arrangement exists.

Service providers

Those who provide administrative services to occupational and personal pension schemes, including:

  • insurance companies and third-party administrators who carry out administrative tasks relating to a scheme
  • participating employers who provide staff to carry out administration tasks in-house (this includes performing payroll and similar functions, as well as carrying out or helping with direct administration of the pension scheme)
  • financial advisers and consultants who provide services to trustees such as record-keeping or acting as intermediaries receiving and forwarding scheme documents

Employers

All employers. In a multi-employer scheme, this includes any employer who becomes aware of a breach, regardless of whether the breach relates to or affects, members who are its employees or those of other employers.

Professional advisers

This includes advisers appointed by the governing body such as scheme actuaries, scheme auditors, reporting accountants, legal advisers,WH2 and fund managers. Where an individual is appointed to provide the relevant service, the duty to report applies to that individual. Where a firm is appointed to provide services, the duty to report applies to the firm and not just the member of staff providing the services.

A scheme strategist or scheme funder of master trust schemes

This is defined in Part 1 of the Pension Schemes Act 2017 (see section 39 of that Act).

Governing bodies should be satisfied that those responsible for reporting breaches are aware of the legal requirements and this code. Training should be provided for the governing body and any in-house administrators.

A person’s responsibility to report breaches is not limited to those that relate to their specific role in a scheme. Irrespective of the activities being undertaken, we expect material breaches to be reported as they are identified.

Whistleblowing protection and confidentiality

The Pensions Act 2004 makes clear that the duty to report overrides any other duties a reporter may have (such as confidentiality), and that any such duty is not breached by making a report. We understand the potential impact of a report on the relationship between a reporter and their client or, in the case of an employee, their employer.

The duty to report does not override legal privilege.WH3 Communications (oral and written) between a professional legal adviser and their client, or a person representing that client, while obtaining legal advice, do not have to be disclosed.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) provides protection for employees making a whistleblowing report to us. Where individuals employed by firms having a duty to report disagree with a decision not to report, they may have protection under the ERA if they make an individual report in good faith.

We will take all reasonable steps to protect a reporter’s identity and maintain confidentiality where a report is made in confidence. We will not disclose any information except where lawfully allowed to do so.

In all cases, we expect reporters to act conscientiously and honestly, and to take account of expert or professional advice where appropriate.

Legal references

WH1Section 70 Pensions Act 2004
[Article 65 Pensions Order (Northern Ireland) 2005]

WH2Subject to the exceptions set out in Section 311 Pensions Act 2004
[Article 283 Pensions Order (Northern Ireland) 2005]

WH3Section 311 Pensions Act 2004
[Article 283 Pensions Order (Northern Ireland) 2005]