Employers could be fined for asking job applicants about pensions

Employers could be fined for asking job applicants about pensions due to amendments that are expected to be made to the Pensions Bill.

The government has signalled its intention to outlaw ‘pension discrimination’ and plans to table an amendment at committee stage to the Pensions Bill, which passed its second reading unopposed last week.

It is concerned that employers could shy away from hiring candidates who do not want to opt out of the personal accounts scheme.

Under the Pensions Bill, employees would be automatically enrolled into the national personal pensions scheme of personal accounts and pay contributions of 4% of their salary, while their employer will be legally obliged to contribute 3%. Personal accounts are expected to come into effect by 2012.

However the EEF, the industry body for engineering and manufacturing employers, is against the proposed clause outlawing pensions discrimination and has written to MPs to this effect.†

Deputy director of employment policy at the EEF, David Yeandle, wrote: “We understand that the government is planning to table an amendment during the Bill’s committee stage that would be designed to prevent employers from screening individuals out of the recruitment process because they want to save in a qualifying workplace pension scheme such as personal accounts.

“We are firmly of the view that this proposed amendment should not introduce the right for individuals to be able to seek, at an employment tribunal, compensation or any other form of redress where there has been a breach of this prohibition and/or they have been unsuccessful in applying for a job.”