“The Employer’s Duty”

We talk blithely of the employer’s duties as if these obligations were pre-ordained.

Economic Liberals may ask how we got to a world in which the Pension Regulator can issue a document entitled “Employer Duties and defining the workforce – an introduction to the new employer duties“.

Pensions were never meant to be a burden, they were a gift from an employer to an employee.

The Regulator’s document , published in February sits on my desktop as a sad reminder that pension provision is now a duty. When you turn a gift into an obligation you have left something undefinable behind.

William Blake wrote a little book of poems called “songs of innocence and experience” that looked at things from a  “half-full and half-empty” perspective. The songs of experience would definitely be favoured by the authors of the Pension Regulator’s guidance notes which are infused with a latent threat of admonishment. I do not know of an exact corollary to BlakesSongs of Innocence unless it is the vision of the Pension Plowman, shared by his extremely optimistic mate Mr Peter Shellswell (currently on a well-earned holiday) known to this blog as the Popcorn Pension.

Since it is up most heresy to introduce any form of innocence and fun into the debate on employer duties, I will withdraw into the sunny uplands of my own imagination for a moment where I will imagine happy shiny people frolicking with their grandchildren, their debit cards charged with the fruits of their lifetime retirement savings.

I will ignore the dark satanic mills in which the lawyers of the DWP and the Pension Regulator labour to produce more guidance notes on employer duties. Where success is measured in the reduction of liabilities not the production of happiness

Instead I will consider a boardroom arrayed with joyous executives exulting in the voluntary participation of their workforce in workplace savings programs which provide them with the happiness of future security.

For however many articles on employer’s duties I will read from however many firms of lawyers, consultants and associated governance specialists, I know that the success of pensions reform in this country rests with the millions of people who currently treat pensions as a glass half empty but who want a glass half full.

Getting people turned on to a great idea like auto-enrolment into workplace savings schemes that work is no easy matter, but it can be done. A month ago I , and half the nation, were moaning about Lockdown London and the disruption of the Olympics. How wrong we were, thanks to an army volunteers and a volunteering army, thanks to the athletes, thanks to LOCOG and its meticulous planning we have turned a “song of experience” into a “song of innocence”. Lockdown London transformed into one joyous “Mo” ment in time.

Cannot we turn an “employer duty” into a “popcorn pension” in a similar way?

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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6 Responses to “The Employer’s Duty”

  1. Mike Atkin says:

    France seem to manage it – not as many medals but much better pension provision.The amusing (you’ve got to laugh or you would cry) thing is we’ll be paying for part of it because we’ve sold them a large part of our electricity supply industry (at a knock down price) and water companies. Its comforting to think that our pensioners will be reluctant to switch on their heating due to lack of performance from DC and ever declining annuities and when they do switch it on the profits go to French pensioners. May be a bit simplistic but you’ll get my drift.
    I shall keep out the cold with my warming memories of 2 wonderfull weeks.

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