New UK Pension Regulator Issues Plan Whistleblower Guidance

April 8, 2005 ( - The Pensions Regulator, the UK's new employer pension overseer, has issued its first set of rules - in this case, governing how to report illegal pension activities.

According to the agency’s announcement of the first code of practice release, the document covered   reporting breaches.   New UK legislation, which became effective this week, extended the current reporting duty to a wider group of pension professionals.

The agency opened Wednesday, replacingthe Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) under the Pensions Act 2004.

“The ‘reporting breaches of the law’ code of practice and supplementary guidance will help potential reporters fulfill their obligations under the new requirements,” the agency said    in its announcement .

Potential whistleblowers now include:

  • trustees of occupational pension plans
  • managers of personal pension plans, including stakeholder plans
  • employers participating in occupational pension plans
  • plan administrators
  • plan actuaries, plan auditors, fund managers and custodians of plan assets
  • others retained to advise trustees or managers.

“Whistleblowers will be expected to report ‘materially significant’ failures to comply with the law, which put scheme members’ benefits at risk,” the agency said.

The agency added: “However, the Pensions Regulator discourages reporting of compliance failures which do not pose a significant threat to members’ benefits and which are being put right, so that the regulator can focus its resource on breaches that are a major risk to pension scheme members.”

The code of practice on notifiable events has now been presented to Parliament and is due to be issued as soon as the parliamentary process is complete. According to the agency, the notifiable events framework provides the Pensions Regulator with early warning of problems with plans or their sponsoring employers which may eventually lead to a ‘call’ on the Pensions Protection Fund. This will enable the regulator to assist plans and employers before a ‘call’ on the Fund becomes inevitable.