You should use your contingency plan to help you to manage your response to the event.
If it looks like an employer event is likely to happen, you should review the impact on the employer covenant and the scheme to determine if it would be appropriate to seek mitigation in respect of the event.
If your trustee board doesn’t have experience of dealing with an employer event, you may need to take advice on the best way to plan your response. This includes taking advice on negotiating proposed changes with the employer.
You should create a response plan that sets out how to deal with communications to members and stakeholders, and inbound communications from these parties.
You will need to do the following:
- Choose whether to use electronic or hard-copy communications, or both. In a fast-moving situation, the lead time to print and send hard-copy communications may mean the content will be out of date by the time it is received.
- Consider whether to tailor communications to different member audiences. For example, where the impact of changes to the scheme varies between active, deferred and pensioner members, or across different sections of the scheme. This may add to the cost and complexity of the process.
- Carefully judge the frequency of communications during what may be an extended period.
- Make sure there is a clear route for incoming enquiries. The scheme secretariat or administrators could set up a dedicated email address or phone line for members. Or they could make sure there is clear signposting for members within existing communication channels (eg options on a call menu).
- Prepare briefing sheets and questions and answers for the scheme administration team.
- Ask the scheme’s legal advisers to review the draft communications.
- Be ready if communications with members enter the public domain and their content is reported by the media. You may need to produce a reactive statement and questions and answers to deal with media enquiries.
The Pensions Regulator or the Pension Protection Fund may have been actively involved with the scheme and referred to in proposed communications to members. You should not issue the communications without giving these stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback on them.
Member concerns may be heightened at points in the process by media or other speculation. However, you are responsible for the accuracy of all communications and may not be able to provide substantive comment.
Members can contact the Pensions Advisory Service for general guidance about their pension.
Check contact data
You should check that the scheme administrator has all the contact data they need for members by audience. This includes active, deferred and pensioner members.
Measure the effectiveness of communications
You should regularly monitor and measure how effectively the communications address member concerns.
Member-nominated trustees can be a valuable source of feedback. You could also use standing forums (consultation groups) to engage with members.