188. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to amend section 81E of the Pensions Act 1990 to abolish the six to 12 month time bar in which pensioners cannot pursue a complaint once they have retired longer than 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19236/18 asked on 02 May 2018)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Section 81E of the Pensions Act 1990 refers to the forum for seeking redress in relation to equal pension treatment in occupational benefits schemes. The time limit provisions contained in Section 81E relating to equal pension treatment and redress are derived from overarching legislative provisions pertaining to access to industrial relations machinery in Ireland. Under that legislation access to industrial relations machinery, such as the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court, is limited to six months from the date of termination of the relevant employment, however, this may be extended to a further six months where reasonable cause is shown. Where a pension scheme has an internal disputes resolution (IDR) procedure, this provides for a formal structure through which beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries can raise complaints or disputes and engage directly with the pension provider concerned.

If an individual is dissatisfied with the outcome of an IDR process he/she may advance a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, who is an independent and impartial statutory officer responsible for investigating and ruling on complaints from active members, deferred members and beneficiaries of occupational pension schemes, trust Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) or Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). The time limits for making a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman are set out under section 51 of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 which comes within the remit of the Minister for Finance.

Accordingly, I do not intend to bring forward any changes in this area to the Pensions Act 1990 at this time.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.