If an employer event happens the trustees should update defined benefit scheme members so they don’t panic and make rash decisions about their pension benefits.
You should work with the employer and advisers to send an initial communication to members. This should:
- explain the current situation
- tell them that they will be updated when more details become clear
- direct them to information about their rights
Work with the employer
Make sure you have the latest information from the employer so that you can inform scheme members.
You should agree upfront how the trustees, employer and any advisers will work on communications to members. This includes when to communicate with members during the process.
It may not be appropriate for the employer to have approval rights for communications. However, you should consider providing copies to the employer before their release so that human resources managers, for example, are aware of the content.
Similarly, you should ask the employer to share in advance with you any communications that they plan to send to their staff about an employer event.
It may not be practical for all trustees to be involved with drafting the member communications. You should consider setting up a sub-committee of the trustee board with delegated authority to approve communication materials. You may also be able to use an existing sub-committee.
Where an employer is in a stressed situation, it is likely that the full trustee board will need to meet significantly more often than usual. If you delegate communications activity to a sub-committee, they should brief the board at these meetings.
Consider how you can communicate most effectively with members. This includes deciding whether to use electronic or paper-based communications and writing in plain English. For more information, read the good communications guide from Pension Quality Mark.
Make sure you comply with data protection legislation. For more information, read the GDPR Made Simple guide from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.