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What Scheme does my employee belong to?

The Scheme that a member belongs to is based on their date of birth and not their occupation. Therefore, Practitioner members of the Scheme are treated the same as other NHS employees.

There are 3 status’s that a member can have:

Protected – This means that they will remain as an active member either within the NHS 1995 Scheme or the NHS 2008 Scheme. Their benefits will be calculated in accordance to this scheme and they will still be able to claim their benefits in full when they reach the Normal Pension Age (NPA), which is 60 for the NHS 1995 Scheme and 65 for the NHS 2008 Scheme. The calculator can be accessed here.

Tapered Protection – members that fall into this category will be moved into the 2015 Scheme, but at a later date than the 01/04/2015. Please see the web link which will provide further information and will provide employers with a calculator which will inform them on what date their employee will move into the scheme. This calculator covers the 1995 and 2008 Scheme members.

Unprotected Members – Any active member who was born on or after 01/09/1965 for the NHS 1995 Scheme and 01/09/1960 for the 2008 Scheme. New members of the scheme from 01/04/2015 will automatically join the 2015 Scheme, where NPA is linked to the state retirement age

What is a Practitioner?

A Practitioner can be medical, dental and ophthalmic practitioner who are registered with their relevant Health Board Performers list.

A medical practitioner is known as a GP and there are different classifications of GPs. Principal GPs are self-employed partners within a Medical Practice, whilst every other form of GP employment including self-employed locums are classified as Assistant GPs. 

A dental practitioner is a dentist who works within a practice. If a dentist works in the hospital or in the community then this work is not regarded as practitioner work.

Ophthalmic Medical Practitioner (OMP) are qualified medical doctors.

Please see the table below for the Group code according to employment type.

Employment Type Group Code
Principal Practitioner 09
Dental Practitioner 10
Assistant Practitioner 16
GP Locums 16
GP Registrars 07
Dental Trainee 17
Officer 07

Types of GP employments and how the earnings are reported

GP Principal

A Principal GP is a partner of a practice or in some cases a single handed GP in a Practice. They are referred to as Principal GPs.

These earnings (profit share) are reported through an annual certificate and then sent to the relevant Practitioner Services Department (PSD).

The earnings for the previous financial year are then sent to SPPA from PSD and are recorded on a member’s record by early July every year.

GP Locum (Self-employed)

A GP Locum is a self -employed GP who will often provide short term cover within a number of practices. (Assistant GP employment)

The GP is responsible for completing their own A&B forms and then sending them into Practitioner services. These forms must be sent into Practitioner services in a timely manner.

Once these forms have been processed then SPPA will receive the annual return.

Out of Hours (OOH), Salaried GP

OOH GPs usually work in a hospital and the superannuation is taken off at source. This is an Assistant GP employment.

Salaried GP

Working under contract within the Practice and has the same entitlements as every other member of staff who is employed in the Practice. This is an Assistant GP employment.

Principal Dentist

A Principal Dentist is a partner of a practice or in some cases a single handed Dentist in a Practice. 

These earnings are reported monthly through a schedule of payments to PSD (Dental).

The earnings are reported annually to SPPA.

Ophthalmic

An Ophthalmic Practitioner will report their earnings to PSD (Dental) for any eye examinations that they carry out for NHS patients.

PSD (Dental) will then report these earnings to PSD.

Contributions

This information is for all audiences except Direction Bodies.

How are Practitioner contributions calculated?

The contribution rate for all Practitioners is based on their actual earnings for GPs and Dentists and not the uprated whole time equivalent earnings. Please see the circular which is published in February each year. Assistant/Salaried Practitioners who have multiple Practitioner employments must estimate what they are going to earn in each employment for the financial year (1st April to 31st March) and then add these figures together, in order to determine their contribution rate. (Annex E, from the circular for further notes)

In addition, they must complete the ‘Form applicable to Assistant Practitioners and salaried GP Practitioners.’, Annex D in the circular, and give a copy to each of their employers. It is the responsibility of the member to inform each of their employers of their contribution rate.

What if my employee has under or overpaid in their contributions?

If a Practitioner has under or overestimated their pensionable income and as a result of this there has been a change in their contribution band then an adjustment needs to be made. If it is prior to the financial year ending (31st March) then the payroll department can make the required adjustment or an annual certificate can be adjusted, for any under or over payments.

However, if the error has been discovered after the financial year has ended, then the member will have to initially email SPPA's Practitioner team. If the member has overpaid in their pension contributions then the SPPA will refund these contributions.

If the member has underpaid in their contributions then SPPA will inform the member that they have underpaid, by how much they have underpaid and how to pay the underpayment.

Opting out of the scheme

This information is for all audiences except Direction Bodies.

The Scheme Regulations stipulate that if a Medical or Dental Practitioner wishes to opt out the scheme then they must opt out of all of their practitioner employments. However, if they have an ‘Officer’ employment with the NHS then they can still pay pension contributions in this post.

Due to differences in the regulations a practitioner must complete the Practitioner opt out form, declare each of their Practitioner employments on the form and send it directly to the SPPA. The SPPA will then contact the individual employers directly and inform the employer that their employee wishes to opt out of the scheme.

If a member wishes to opt out of the scheme, SPPA require a minimum of 2 months notice. PSD will apply the opt out from the month end. For example, if the form is completed on 9th Sep 2018 then the employee must request that their contributions stop from 1st Dec 2018. 

Once an employer has received notification from SPPA that their employee/member wishes to opt out then the SPPA must receive a leaver form (NSR02). Employers can submit these through EDM.

Auto- enrolment (Audience – PSD, Practice Managers, Payroll Departments & NES)

If your employee has opted out of the scheme then please do not auto-enrol them back into the scheme, particularly if your employee has multiple employments. If your employee wishes to opt back into the superannuation scheme then they must contact the SPPA directly.

Opting back into the Scheme

When a Practitioner opts back into the scheme they must start paying contributions on all of their Practitioner employments on the same date. Members should request the opt in form from PSD. 

Practitioners who opt back into the scheme must pay superannuation for a minimum of 1 month.

All GP Principals and self –employed Locums must complete an Opt In form.

SPPA will require a starter NSR1 to be completed. Employers can do this through our EDM system.

Opting back into the Scheme (salaried GPs and OOH GPs administered by Payroll Managers and GP practices)

Members should provide written notification to all employers of their intention to opt back in.

When a member has opted back in a starter form (NSR01) is completed by all employers and sent directly to the SPPA. This can be done through EDM.

Maternity Leave

You can find out more about maternity leave here.

Retirement

Retirement Options

Scheme regulations are the same for all NHS members, including practitioners.

Age Retirement

NHS 1995 Scheme

  • The Normal Pension Age (NPA) for this scheme is 60. Therefore members can claim their full benefits at age 60.
  • A member cannot contribute past 45 calendar years
  • A member cannot contribute to the scheme after the age of 75.

NHS 2008 Scheme

  • The Normal Pension Age (NPA) for this scheme is 65. Therefore members can claim their full benefits at age 65.
  • A member cannot contribute past 45 calendar years.
  • A member cannot contribute to the scheme after the age of 75.

NHS 2015 Scheme

  • The Normal Pension Age (NPA) for this scheme links a members state retirement age. This can be subject to change by the UK Government. You can access the calculator for NPA here.
  • There is no maximum service applied to this scheme.
  • A member cannot contribute to the scheme after the age of 75.

Voluntary Early Retirement with Actuarial Reduction (VERA)

NHS 1995 Scheme

  • A member can claim their 1995 Scheme benefits earlier than the NPA (60)
  • The minimum pension age is 50 for some members and 55 for others, subject to scheme regulations.
  • Any benefits claimed before NPA will be subject to an actuarial reduction.

NHS 2008 Scheme

  • A member can claim their 2008 Scheme benefits earlier than the NPA (65)
  • The minimum pension age is 55.
  • Any benefits claimed before NPA will be subject to an actuarial reduction.

NHS 2015 Scheme

  • A member can claim their 2015 Scheme benefits earlier than the NPA from age 55.
  • Any benefits claimed before NPA will be subject to an actuarial reduction.

Instructions on how to complete the NHS Retirement for Age and VERA application

The employee/member of the scheme will need to be complete section 1-10 and the employer will need to complete Part 2, Section 1 of the form.

In order to inform the SPPA of what a Practitioner has actually or provisionally earned up to their intended date of retirement the employer will need to complete Section 2E – Practitioner Only. Please note when completing this section that we only require your employee's actual earnings in the previous financial years, including any earnings or provisional earnings for the part financial year.

Example

If your employee was retiring on 01/09/2018, then the SPPA would require the information on the superannuable earnings for the financial years 16/17, 17/18 and the provisional part year earnings for the period of 1st Apr 2018 - 1st Sep 2018

The SPPA will need to receive the completed form 4 months prior to the intended date of retirement. If the application is sent in later than the 4 months prior to retirement then it may affect your employee being paid their pension on time. If their pension is not paid on time then they will receive the arrears of their pension from their date of retirement.

Please send the completed application form directly to us.

Ill Health Retirement

If a Practitioner is unable to work due to ill health they may retire earlier than NPA. They can apply for ill health retirement.

If a Practitioner has a terminal diagnosis (life expectancy of under 12 months) and they are over the NPA for the scheme that they belong to then they can still apply for ill-health retirement.

In both of the scenarios above the AW8 application form will need to be completed.

An additional application form called AW8MED also needs to be completed by the Health Professional in charge of their case. This is usually an Occupational Health Doctor/Consultant or their General Practitioner who will gather medical evidence from other professionals involved in the case.

In terminal cases, a letter stating that Practitioner has a terminal condition with less than 12 months to live must be provided by the relevant Health Professional.

How to complete the Ill Health retirement application form

Salaried GPs

The employee must complete Part 1 (up to section 11).

HR Manager for assistant GP’s Part 2, Section 2

The Payroll Manager Part 2, Section 8

(For salaried GPs please see further guidance on the ill health employer page.)

Principal GPs, Dentists and self-employed Locums, PSD Medical and Dental

The Practitioner must complete Part 1 (up to section 11).

The Practitioner Services Department Part 2 Section 8 

The SPPA prefer to have 4 months’ notice prior to the intended date of retirement. However, if the application form is later than this then SPPA will attempt to pay the benefits on time, but cannot guarantee this. If the benefits are not paid on time then the pension will be backdated to the date of retirement and the member will receive arrears of their pension.

All applications should be sent directly to SPPA.

Partial Retirement

NHS 1995 Scheme

Members of the NHS 1995 Scheme cannot apply for partial retirement.

NHS 2008 Scheme and 2015 Scheme

Eligibility

The member must:

  • Be aged 55 or above
  • Have reached the Schemes minimum pension age
  • Have at least 2 years pensionable service
  • Have changed terms of employment
  • Have reduced pensionable pay by at least 10% for a minimum of 12 months
  • Choose to partially retire within 3 months of the pay reduction

Applying for partial retirement

You can apply for partial retirement on a form that is available from your employer. Your employer must state that your employment terms have changed and your pensionable pay has reduced by at least 10%.

Your application must:

  • State how much of your pension you wish to apply for (as a percentage of the total)
  • Tell us if you are also applying for any additional pension you may have purchased

If you are under age 65 your benefits will be reduced to take account of the fact that they are being paid earlier than expected. You can find out more here.

If you are over age 65 the part of your pension that was earned before you reached 65 will be increased as it is being paid later than expected. You can find out more here.

Minimum and maximum amounts available

The minimum value of the pension you can apply to have paid as part of your partial retirement is 20% of your pensionable service at the date you choose to take some of your benefits and not less than £825 per annum in 2008/9. This figure is linked to the HMRC tax rules and represents 0.05% of the member’s lifetime allowance.

You must continue to have at least 20% of your pensionable service remaining in the Scheme (at at least 1 year’s worth) when you take partial retirement. This means that the maximum amount you can apply for is 80%.

Limit on amount of times you can partially retire

You may choose to take part of your benefits on no more than two occasions. Any remaining pension after two partial retirements must be taken when you finally retire.

Continuing to qualify for your pension

If you have chosen to take part of your pension and your pensionable pay increases within 12 months of its earlier reduction you will cease to be entitled to receive the pension that you have chosen.

Premature Retirement

Premature retirement does not apply to Practitioner employments, as this only applies to officer redundancy cases.

Returning to work after retirement

A member may return to work after they have claimed their benefits, however there are conditions attached to this depending on what scheme the member belonged to before they claimed their NHS benefits.

If the rules below are not followed then the pension will be subject to an abatement.

NHS 1995 Scheme

The HMRC 24 hour retirement rule applies to members of the NHS 1995 Scheme which stipulates that:

  • A 24 hour break from all employments is required. This can be over a weekend.
  • Only allowed to work a minimum of 16 hours per week for the first 4 weeks. This includes paid annual leave and it is not an average of 16 hours worked in a 4 week period.
  • After the 4 week period your employee will be able to work as many hours as they please.

NHS 2008 Scheme

Must take a 24 hour break.

NHS 2015 Scheme

More information can be found here.

Re-joining the Scheme

NHS 1995 Scheme

After a member has taken their NHS 1995 benefits then they cannot re-join the scheme or any other NHS Scheme that the SPPA administer.

NHS 2008 Scheme

They can re-join a NHS Scheme. More information can be found here.

NHS 2015 Scheme

They can re-join the NHS 2015 Scheme and accrue a new pension.

Partial Retirement

Further information can be found here.

Ill Health – Lower Tier

Must follow the 24 hour retirement rules.

If your employee is returning to work after receiving lower-tier ill health retirement then they cannot return to the same employment they retired from on ill health grounds.

Please be aware that they will be subject to a Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) and if this is exceeded then your employee’s ill-health pension will be subject to an abatement.

If they belonged to the NHS 1995 Scheme then they cannot contribute to any other scheme.

Ill Health – Upper Tier

Must follow the 24 hour retirement rules.

If your employee is returning to work after receiving lower tier ill health retirement then they cannot return to the same employment that they retired from on ill health grounds.

If they belonged to the NHS 1995 Scheme then they cannot contribute to any other scheme.

They are subject to a LEL (Lower Earnings Limit) which this is set by HMRC each financial year. This can be found under the Class 1 National Insurance thresholds section on the HMRC website.

If HMRC’s LEL is exceeded in any financial year then the member will lose their upper-tier enhancement and will be moved to the lower tier pension. Further information can be found below:

Pensioners in receipt of upper tier benefits who return to substantive employment outside of the NHS. In these circumstances;

  • A pensioner has the ability to earn up to the equivalent of the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (LEL; stands at £5824 in tax year 2015/6) each tax year without losing access to an upper tier pension
  • If pensioners exceed the LEL they will move down to lower tier entitlements- a substitute lower tier pension at the point the limit is exceeded
  • Pensioners will be afforded an opportunity before NBA to re-access upper tier benefits if it subsequently proves that they are unable to continue in that employment.
  • To support a reinstatement of the original upper tier pension from the substitute lower tier pension, a pensioner must have supplied medical evidence. The SPPA medical adviser will consider this evidence, in relation to the original upper tier condition assessment and advise if it represents that the pensioner does meet the criterion of being permanently incapable of regular employment of like duration.

Pensioners in receipt of upper tier benefits who return to substantive employment within the NHS;

  • Where a pensioner earns below LEL in any tax year from any NHS employment, entitlement to upper tier will only remain for 12 months from the start of that employment. After that time any NHS earnings will lead to a reduction to a substitute lower tier pension.
  • If pensioners exceed the LEL during this 12 month period they will move to a substitute lower tier pension at the point the limit is exceeded.
  • Pensioners will be able to ask SPPA to be assessed for a return to the original upper tier pension if it subsequently proves that they are unable to continue in that employment.
  • The pensioner would have to apply to SPPA within this 12 month period to be assessed for a return to the original upper tier pension.
  • To support a reinstatement of the original upper tier pension from the substitute lower tier pension, a pensioner must have supplied medical evidence. The SPPA medical adviser will consider this evidence, in relation to the original upper tier condition assessment and advise if it represents that the pensioner does meet the criterion of being permanently incapable of regular employment of like duration.

Death In Service

NHS 1995, 2008 & 2015 Sections 

If a member dies in employment and is contributing to the scheme then they may be entitled to benefits. You can find out more here.

The form that needs to be completed is the AW10/1. In order for the beneficiary’s to claim their Lump sum entitlement and their partners benefit then they must complete the AW7 application form sections 1-13, and for Practitioner employments section 14E must be completed by the employer (regardless of what scheme the member belonged to). In addition, you must complete section 14F (Employer Declaration) and you must ensure that the deceased employee’s beneficiary’s has signed section 13 of the application form.

GP Locums and OOH GPs

As there are no contracted hours (as and when contract) the rules for NHS bank staff would apply to these members. You can find out more here.

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