It has been fantastic to see the public support for key workers during this current crisis - and I hope that it will be enduring. However, with Government policies having to flex and change at a rapid pace to deal with the impact of COVID-19 - it is important that the pensions framework for key workers keeps up.
Outer Temple Chambers have written an excellent summary of the Sanderson case which related to an NHS locum. This case summary shows how the rules of the NHS Pension Scheme can create vastly different outcomes if an NHS worker dies "in service" or at another time - differences which might not be anticipated by key workers or their families.
As the article illustrates, this issue is important now as the NHS needs all the resource available to it (including locums) - and those workers should be clear how they are covered for risk benefits at a time when they are exposed to personal risk.
"Pension risk" could also arise where those who work in public service either volunteer in or work in public services which are different to their day to day job. Those workers will need to be clear that, under those arrangements, they are not at risk of falling through an unintended gap in pension scheme rules should they fall ill.
Any such gaps can be fixed - but the Government's pension/risk policy for such workers should be clear so that key workers have the coverage they expect and deserve so that key workers have the coverage they expect and deserve.
Following the judgment in Sanderson, members of the 1995 Scheme face the unpalatable risk that if they die over the weekend, or during a planned break from work (e.g. a holiday) they will not receive a death in service benefit.