SECTION 3: JOINING THE SCHEME
1. Employees Joining the Scheme
2. Employees who Rejoin the Scheme (inc Re-employment)
3. Joining Forms
4. Transferring Pension Rights to the STSS
5. Re Joining after Retirement
6. Working after Retirement
7.1 Salary of Reference
7.2 Premature Retirement Compensation
7.3 Abatement of an ill-health pension
8. Buying Additional STSS Benefits
Most teachers will be eligible to join the scheme and no medical examination is required. Employees are automatically brought into the scheme on commencing employment. Form STSS OPT OUT must be completed if the employee does not wish to be a member. This is known as 'opting out'. A member may opt out of the scheme at any time.
Teachers can join/re join and contribute from age 16 until age 75.
There is no minimum number of hours that can be pensionable in the STSS.
The maximum number of hours that can be pensionable in the STSS are the normal full time hours relevant to the post.
If an employee works less than the normal whole time hours for the post, any additional hours worked, between the contracted hours worked and the normal full time hours for the post, are pensionable. Overtime payments for hours worked in excess of whole time hours are non pensionable.
Where there is no acknowledged whole time hours figure for the post, it is assumed that 37 hours per week are pensionable.
If an employee has 2 or more jobs, which together will exceed whole time, the excess posts or hours should be made non pensionable according to the following rules:
- the part-time post with the highest hourly rate takes priority
- posts with identical hourly rates should be controlled to ensure they do not exceed the whole time equivalent hours.
An application in writing should be made to the employer where a member who has opted out of the scheme, or who previously chose not to join, now applies to join or re join the scheme. The application should be accepted at any time before retirement unless the applicant is absent for any reason. SPPA will advise if there is any doubt about an employee's right to re join the scheme.
Form TSS1 should be completed by the employer with details of each new member and sent to SPPA to set up an individual record of membership.
SPPA will enter the member into the relevant section of the scheme i.e. NPA 60 or NPA 65, dependant on whether the member is new to the scheme or has previous membership.
The personal reference "GTC number" will remain as the member's superannuation reference number throughout all current and subsequent STSS employments in Scotland and should be quoted on all correspondence and notifications thereafter.
If the number is not known, or has not been notified, the full surname, forename(s), date of birth, pay reference number and National Insurance number must be given in any enquiry or correspondence with SPPA.
4. Transferring Pension Right in to STSS
The starter letter and members guide advises employees that it may be possible to transfer previous pension scheme rights in to the STSS. All transfers are subject to time limits (see Transfers section 7 for information).
The check list provided with the starter letter provides space for members to ask SPPA for a transfer pack.
5. Re Joining After Retirement
Former scheme members who have received their STSS retirement benefits can re join the scheme, providing they are under age 70 and have not accrued the maximum service of 45 years.
In line with other public sector pension scheme, members who are re-employed after taking their pension benefits must have a break of at least one calendar day between ceasing membership of the scheme and becoming entitled to receive pension benefits, as there must be evidence of clear intention on the part of the member to retire.
SPPA should also be notified immediately when any teacher or pensioner changes their employer within an employing authority. All re-employment after 1st October 2001 is pensionable unless the teacher opts out of the STSS
Members who have been in receipt of a pension should be reminded about their responsibility to notify SPPA when taking up re-employment in any capacity (whether superannuable or non superannuable). Failure to notify SPPA may mean that pension benefits are overpaid. Any overpayment would be recovered from the pensioner.
Earnings from re-employed service are assessed annually at the end of each financial year (31 March). During any period of re-employment, a teacher's pension may be partially or fully abated, by the amount by which their pension (including any compensation payment or other UK teacher's pension) plus their re-employment salary exceeds their salary of reference.
7.1 Salary of Reference
The salary of reference is the pensionable salary used in the calculation of retirement benefits. Where applicable pension increase (PI) is applied.
7.2 Premature Retirement Compensation
If a members' pension requires to be abated and they are in receipt of a pension payable by the employer under the Teachers' (Compensation for Premature Retirement) (Scotland) Regulations 1980 (as amended), SPPA will notify the employer of the amount by which their compensation should be abated. The compensation element of pension is always reduced before any reduction is made in the member's pension. In most cases, SPPA will not be aware of what is being paid by employers by way of compensation, therefore, employers should provide SPPA with the details as and when re-employment occurs.
7.3 Abatement of an Ill Health Pension
Where a member in receipt of an ill health pension awarded prior to 1st April 1997 becomes re-employed as a qualifying teacher, it will be necessary for SPPA to establish whether or not the member remains incapacitated. If incapacity has ceased, the pension will be stopped. If it is found that incapacity continues, the pension will continue in payment, but it will be abated as previously explained. If re-employment occurs for an incapacity pension awarded after 1st April 1977, then the pension is stopped immediately. It is important to notify SPPA of any re-employed qualifying teachers who are in receipt of incapacity pensions and are under age 60.
The starter letter advises members that it may be possible to purchase Additional Pension benefits from the STSS. Further information regarding opportunities to purchase Additional Pension is included in section 7.