Trustees on top of rules

Employers are being encouraged to ensure that pension scheme trustees are on top of their obligations under the new regime.

High street retail group Woolworths is particularly keen to encourage its trustees to understand the rule changes. Lis Browning, group pensions manager at Woolworths, says employers need to "formalise training needs" and target any gaps in skills, before the legislation becomes finalised next April.

After making sure that trustees have sufficient information to do their job and understand what’s being asked of them, Browning advises putting together a training register and recording who has done what.

She adds that training needn’t break the bank. "There is a lot of bumph out there, but some consultants produce really good guides that can be read by the lay trustee. There are a lot of free seminars and breakfast meetings by all the big providers."

Woolworths, which employs around 32,000 staff, operates a final salary pension scheme, which it was able to keep by increasing its retirement age to 65 in 2003. The firm currently has 8,500 scheme members, of which around 5,000 are shop based.