Napo has registered a formal dispute with the NPS over the continuing maladministration of the Ill Health Early Retirement process within the LGPS pension scheme.
Since the creation of the NPS and transfer of our members, pension administration has been challenging. Napo predicted this would be the case but our warnings about the readiness of the NPS and SSCL to manage transferees were ignored.
Throughout most of last year members have been subject to a multitude of problems over the collection of pension contributions and then efforts to rectify these, and hard-pressed first line managers have struggled to cope with the pressure to lead on a process for which they have had very little, if any, specific training. This has been especially problematic for members being assessed for early retirement on health grounds.
Napo has told NPS management that: “any process as important as this can only work if the key players have a confident and clear understanding of what is expected of them and are themselves supported when something starts to go wrong. It is therefore dispiriting to consistently hear of line managers saying ‘We don’t do IHER any more’ or ‘You’ll have to sort that out yourself’”.
Napo has also drawn attention to the stress and financial loss suffered by members because of the maladministration, telling the NPS that a process that should, on average, take about 12 weeks is instead taking between six months to a year.
The union has already registered a dispute over the unilateral decision by NPS management to change notice arrangements in 2016. This is now overlapping with the pensions issues as it is almost inevitable that someone awarded IHER will have their notice period reduced or withdrawn totally because of the ridiculous length of time it is taking to process the retirement. Napo has told the NPS “this borders on a punishment for being ill”.
Napo has listed a number of conditions for a resolution of the dispute. These include an immediate review of the IHER process to make it as clear and easy to follow as possible; jointly agreed training for all first and second line managers; the production of a new joint guide on the management of absence and the IHER process and the appropriate resolution of all existing cases within the system already where staff could have suffered a detriment, with compensation payments.