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Annie Hayes

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Age regulations fail to clear up pension confusion

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The age regulations continue to cause confusion in relation to pensions by their unclear wording and incomplete nature, according to a leading international law firm.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has said that the cornerstone of the problem is that because pension schemes provided by employers broadly grant benefits depending on age and service, they consequently look inherently age discriminatory.

It’s a problem that has not been worked out over time – 18 months on from their enactment in relation to pensions, the age regulations continue to cause confusion in relation to pensions.

David Pollard, pension’s partner at Freshfields, commented: “The government and EU presumably did not intend for the age discrimination laws to outlaw pensions, but in the UK the final regulations certainly suffered by being rushed through just before coming into force. Why it took over six years for the government to produce the legislation is still not clear.”

According to Pollard, many of their clients are requesting the firm to rate the legal risks attached to a particular practice. Pollard said this is resulting in pension schemes and employers adopting a “wait and see” tactic to see how the case law develops.

Freshfields believes the uncertainty surrounding the age regulations is particularly striking in relation to flexible retirement that is pension scheme provisions which permit benefits to be drawn either before or after the normal retirement date.

The Department for Work and Pensions issued guidance last year on the impact of the age regulations on flexible retirement, but the pensions industry is still awaiting answers to the complexities highlighted by this report.

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Annie Hayes

Editor

Read more from Annie Hayes
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