- 1. Is it worth it to pay into a UK workplace pension as a displaced Ukrainian?
- 2. How to decline being enrolled into a pension scheme?
- 3. What if I am outwith the opt out period and can no longer get a refund?
- 4. If I change employers, will my new employer pay into my old pension?
- 5. If I have more than one pension, can I put them together?
- 6. I don’t know where my pension is/I’ve lost my pension. What do I do?
1. Is it worth it to pay into a UK workplace pension as a displaced Ukrainian?
- Paying into a workplace pension scheme means you will likely not be able to access this money until you’re 57 (the pensionable age is 55 at the moment, but it’s set to go up to 57 in 2028). Unless you’re of pensionable age, the only case when the UK tax legislation allows you to claim your pension is if you become seriously ill or disabled.
- You can claim your pension from abroad (including from Ukraine) once you’re of pensionable age, but if you have trouble speaking English, for instance, this may be a somewhat complicated process. This usually involves filling out forms and may sometimes involve phone calls to the pension provider.
- Pensions are invested products and if the market is doing poorly, your pension value can go down.
- As long as you contribute a minimum of 5% of your salary (which is the default contribution amount for pensions), your employer is legally obligated to contribute a further 3%, and you’re also given a 20% tax relief on your contribution by the government if you’ve previously paid tax on this income (i.e. if you contribute 80 GBP after tax, the government will give you an extra 20). You therefore get extra money.
- Pensions are invested products and statistically speaking, over time tend to perform better (i.e. grow due to the market doing well) than, for instance, savings accounts in banks.
2. How to decline being enrolled into a pension scheme?
NB! Please note that if you opt out of a pension scheme, you will typically be automatically put back into it after around 3 years. You will then have to opt out again.
After you get your welcome pack (i.e. a set of documents showing details of your pension, which can arrive by email or by post), you legally have 30 days to opt out of the pension and get a refund. You must do it within 30 days or you may be unable to withdraw the money you have already contributed right away, and will have to wait until 57 to do that.
There are 2 main ways of opting out -
- Filling out an online form with AssistMe. This is an option you can use if your employer has given you something called a “unique identification number”. They will also typically give you a link where you can input this number and some personal details and then click “opt out”.
- Submitting an opt out notification, which will either be sent to your employer by the pension provider or which you will have to send to your employer’s payroll/HR department yourself. Here are opt out instructions for some of the biggest pension providers in the UK:
Aviva - mpen30d.pdf (aviva.io) (this is a form you need to send to Aviva and they will notify your employer for you)
NEST - How do I opt out of Nest? | Nest pensions (you can notify NEST online or by phone)
People’s Pension - Opt out - The People's Pension (thepeoplespension.co.uk) (you can opt out online or by phone)
Scottish Widows - Opt Out form for GPP and GSHP (scottishwidows.co.uk) (this is a form you need to fill, sign, and send to your employer yourself)
3. What if I am outwith the opt out period and can no longer get a refund?
Unfortunately, this means you cannot get your money back until you’re 57 or unless you’re disabled or seriously ill. This is due to the UK tax law and there’s no way around it.
However, you can always ask your employer to stop future contributions to your pension. To do this, write/talk to your payroll or HR department and tell them that you wish to go on a “pension premium holiday”. This will stop your pension contributions for up to 12 months. Once 12 months are up, you can extend the suspension of contributions for another 12 months.
You will still be entitled to get your money back once you’re of pensionable age. It doesn’t matter if at that point you’re back in Ukraine and no longer have a UK bank account - your pension provider must pay the money into your Ukrainian bank account if needed.
4. If I change employers, will my new employer pay into my old pension?
Unless you specifically ask them to do so, the answer is typically NO. Your new employer will normally set up a new, different pension policy for you. It is therefore very important to be aware of how many pensions you have and with which providers - you can and will have more than 1 pension if you change employers.
There are over 19 billion pounds in lost pension pots in the UK (i.e. pensions people forgot to keep track of). Do not lose your money in such a senseless way!
5. If I have more than one pension, can I put them together?
Yes. Most major pension providers use an online system called Origo to complete pension transfers and merge pensions together. You must typically complete an Origo application on the receiving side (i.e. with the provider you want to put the other pension(s) into). You will normally need the following pieces of information - both pension numbers, the approximate value of the pension you want to transfer, and the name of the employing company for that pension (i.e. if you worked for Tesco and Tesco started your pension, the you will simply need the name “Tesco”).
Before you start an Origo transfer, your details with both providers must match - i.e. they must hold the same name, NINO, address, and date of birth. If your address or name have changed, for instance, make sure to let your pension companies know beforehand.
You can typically find a link to an Origo transfer form in your online profile with your pension provider (if you don’t have a profile, you should be able to create one by registering on the provider’s website using your personal details). It will normally be titled something along the lines of “Transfer a pension”.
6. I don’t know where my pension is/I’ve lost my pension. What do I do?
In the first place, we would recommend asking your employer (past or present).
If for whatever reason that’s impossible or the employer doesn’t know, your pension provider will typically be indicated on your payslips from that period. If you have access to your payslips, check those.
Finally, there is a government pension tracing service that helps people find their lost pensions - Find pension contact details - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)