Pensions Bill is HR highlight of Queen’s Speech

The Government is ready to introduce a new Pensions Bill to protect the
rights of employees in company schemes.

The Bill, which was announced as part of the Queen’s speech, is designed to
act as a safety net for members of final salary schemes.

It will mean greater protection for staff of insolvent firms, and establish
a pensions regulator.

Deborah Cooper, a senior research actuary at consultants Mercer, said the
Bill should be launched as soon as possible, but warned that it may not provide
all the answers to the UK’s creaking pensions system.

"The pension protection fund will help to restore faith in pensions,
but the level of protection may have been oversold – although this might only
emerge in the long term," she explained.

The speech also outlined plans to offer same-sex couples the same pension,
legal rights and benefits currently enjoyed by married people.

The Civil Partnership Bill will also enable gay couples to register for
joint state pensions and other national rights from 2010.

Another draft bill will firm up the rights of disabled staff and students.

One of the most contentious aspects of the speech was the Government
decision to abolish up-front fees for university students, and introduce
variable charges.

However, the Government programme failed to announce the expected corporate
killing laws or rules forcing public bodies to promote sex equality.

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