For information on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) which is available to staff of grade 7 and above please see the information below. Alternatively contact Peter Brookes, Pensions & Employee Benefits Administrator for more details.
Your contract of employment will state if your university employment is subject to membership of USS. If your contract is pensionable you are automatically a member of the scheme until you opt out (except if you are ineligible for membership – see below). Please also note that the university is operating USS as a “salary sacrifice” arrangement for its regular employees, the implications of which are explained in USS’S Salary Sacrifice Factsheet.
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If you wish to opt out of membership of USS you can do so. The appropriate form can be obtained from the USS website at: www.uss.co.uk. You cannot complete or submit the form ahead of your date of joining the Scheme.
If you have a pensionable contract of employment you will not be entered into the scheme if you are ineligible for membership. These are the only reasons for not being eligible for automatic USS membership:
You are aged 75 or over at the commencement of your relevant Aston University pensionable employment.
You carry out the majority of your duties for the University in a European Union country other than the United Kingdom.
You are already in receipt of a pension from USS. (See note on re-employed USS Pensioners below.)
If you have previously opted out of membership and now wish to opt in you can do so provided you are not ineligible for membership.
To encourage more saving for retirement, the Government has introduced a requirement for employers to enrol employees (subject to certain age and earnings limits) into work place pension arrangements. This is commonly referred to as auto-enrolment. Aston University became subject to this requirement on 1 August 2013.
The University already enrols into USS the majority of its employees on grades 7 and above at commencement of employment or at the time they first meet the eligibility criteria for membership. This contractual enrolment into USS is part of the Terms and Conditions of employment.
Where the University has contractually enrolled you into USS the auto-enrolment requirement does not apply unless you opt out of membership of the Scheme. If you do opt out, you will immediately become subject to the auto-enrolment requirements. Generally, this will only affect you at the re-enrolment date (every three years from 1 August 2013). However, there may be individual circumstances when the University will be required to auto-enrol you ahead of the 3 year re-enrolment. Typically this will be because your earnings were below the auto-enrolment level whilst you were member of the Scheme but they have now gone above that level*. A notice will be sent to you if you are to be auto-enrolled and you will be able to opt out again should you wish to do so.
Further information on auto-enrolment can be found on here: www.uss.co.uk
* The earnings level for 2016/2017 is £833 per month. The assessment for auto-enrolment is carried out on actual pay received in the pay month. Therefore, if your employment commences towards the end of the month, your pay for that month may be below the auto-enrolment level, but go above the level for the next month. This can result in an individual being contractually enrolled at commencement of employment, opting out straightaway and then being auto-enrolled at the beginning of the following month. The Government has indicated that it intends to amend this particular part of the regulations with an intention of not requiring auto-enrolment where an individual has already opted out in the last 12 months.
Prior to the introduction of the auto-enrolment requirement, USS did not allow those already receiving a pension from USS to rejoin the Scheme if they were subsequently re-employed. USS has now amended its Rules so that its pensioners can be enrolled into the Scheme in accordance with the auto-enrolment requirements:
(earnings level for 2016/2017 tax year)
USS requires re-employed USS pensioners rejoining USS to pay a contribution rate which reflects the cost of accrual for their age. The contribution rate payable will depend upon your age at the date of rejoining and the current table of contribution rates (at March 2016) can be viewed here.
Notice - Information about changes to USS 1 April 2016
USS Member Guide
Notice to Opt in form
USS Salary Sacrifice Factsheet
More detailed information about USS can be found at http://www.uss.co.uk
If you join USS, a copy of the appropriate 'Guide for Members' will be sent to you with your membership certificate.