Employers, trustees and managers of a scheme, and in the case of multi-employer schemes, any other person who has the power to make a change under the scheme rules (the most obvious example being the principal employer), cannot decide to make a “listed change” unless consultation under the Consultation Regulations has been carried out. In many instances, a listed change will involve the exercise of the scheme’s power of amendment. However, there may be circumstances in which a change in practice under an existing scheme power, which does not involve the exercise of the scheme’s amendment power, will be a listed change. If the trustees have the power to make a change, they cannot do so unless they are happy that the employer has undertaken the required consultation.
Employers with 50 or more employees in Great Britain are subject to the requirements of the Consultation Regulations. For multi-employer schemes, this could result in an employer with at least 50 employees having a duty to consult, whilst another employer which participates in the same scheme and which has fewer than 50 employees would not have a duty to consult, even though the change to the scheme will affect both sets of employees in the same way. Employers should note that these figures relate to the total number of employees, not just employees who are pension scheme members and, in a multi-employer scheme, each employer who meets the threshold criteria has its own obligation to consult.
Employers in limited circumstances are excluded from the consultation requirements. These include employers in relation to a scheme with fewer than two members and employers with small self-administered schemes (i.e., with fewer than 12 members where all of the members are trustees of the scheme).