The Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, has this week published the General Scheme of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2017. The General Scheme is an initial draft of a bill which is then subject to pre-legislative scrutiny before being finalised. While in the normal course it could take some months for a General Scheme to be reviewed and scrutinized, the Minister has indicated that he intends for the final bill to be enacted before the Dáil breaks for Summer Recess (normally towards the end of July).
- Sponsoring employers to be required to give 12 months’ notice before ceasing contributions to defined benefit pension schemes and to continue paying contributions to the scheme during that period;
- Employers of schemes which do not satisfy the minimum funding standard / funding standard reserve, to be required to enter into funding negotiations with the trustees;
- Proposed power for the Pensions Authority to impose contribution obligation on sponsoring employers; and
- Extension of spouse’s pensions to civil partners and same-sex spouses in certain circumstances.