Clause 49

Part of Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 31st January 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Minister of State (Pension Reform), Department for Work and Pensions 9:45 am, 31st January 2008

We want to deter employers from encouraging workers to opt out of pension scheme membership. Clause 49 ensures that any agreement, including those involving inducements, that aims to limit an employer’s duties or a worker’s rights under the legislation is void. Workers will remain free to opt back into qualifying pension scheme membership and to disregard any agreement to the contrary. Employers that refuse to accept workers into the scheme could receive penalties for failure to enrol. As a result of the Government amendment, they would not be able to claw back any inducements that they had given.

We believe that that approach, backed by an effective communications strategy so that both employers and workers are well informed about their rights and responsibilities, is the best way forward. We do not think that making it a criminal offence to offer inducements is the most effective way of deterring employers. In practice, the intention of the employer in such circumstances could be difficult to prove—there is some concern about the mens rea there.

I hope that the Committee will be able to accept Government amendment No. 156. I will not be able to accept new clause 1, but I hope that the changes made by the amendment will reassure hon. Members.