186. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if safeguards will be put in place to enable pensioners have a greater say in the governance of their pension scheme in view of the fact that many defined benefit pension schemes are closed to new members and that pensioners constitute a growing percentage of scheme memberships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19234/18 asked on 02 May 2018)
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The governance of an individual pension scheme is generally a matter for the scheme trustees. Scheme trustees have duties and responsibilities under trust law, under other relevant legislation and under the Pensions Act, 1990, as amended. The duties of pension scheme trustees include administering the trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. It is important to note that pension scheme trustees have no function in negotiating improved benefits and entitlements for members under a pension scheme. Trustees must act in the best interests of all scheme members whether active, deferred, or retired. Consequently any decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by the relevant legislation. The provisions of the Pensions Act are enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The Pensions Authority makes information available on its website to assist members, employers and trustees understand the procedures for member participation in the selection of trustees.
Arrangements for member participation will usually be made following discussions between the employer and representatives of members. These discussions will cover such matters as the overall number of trustees and the arrangements for the selection of a proportion of this number by members. Specific rules on all these matters are set down in the regulations which can be invoked, as necessary
While current legislation does not specifically provide that member trustees must include at least one or more pensioner members (nor does it provide that member trustees must include one or more active members) it does provide an opportunity for such membership and pensioner members may avail of that opportunity to become scheme trustees or nominate others to act on their behalf. It is not intended to make any legislative amendments in this area.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.