An update on Private Sector Pensions in Gibraltar

By Gerry Kelly, Sovereign Group CEO

Eleven months after Gibraltar’s new ‘auto enrolment’ pensions regime was implemented for Gibraltar’s largest employers – so-called ‘Enterprise’ employers with over 250 staff – on 1 August 2021, the phased roll-out moved on to the second tranche of employers – ‘large’ employers with over 100 employees – who were required to provide a workplace pension plan for their employees by 1 July 2022.

Gibraltar’s Private Sector Pensions Act 2019 was introduced to ensure that every member of the Gibraltar community, including those working in the private sector, will be financially protected in their later years. Like the ‘auto enrolment’ pensions regime in the UK, the Act makes it compulsory for all employers in Gibraltar to provide access to a workplace pension plan, in addition to the existing State pension, to all eligible employees.

Should an employee choose to join the pension scheme, the Act also makes it compulsory for both the employer and employee to contribute a regular minimum amount – 2% of earnings – to the employee’s pension fund.

Implementation of the Act was deliberately phased to give smaller employers more time to adjust to the new requirements. The deadlines set for employer compliance under the phased implementation were as follows:

  • ‘Enterprise’ employers (over 250 staff) – 1 August 2021
  • ‘Large’ employers (101 to 250 staff) – 1 July 2022
  • ‘Medium’ employers (51 to 100 staff) – 1 July 2025
  •  ‘Small’ employer (15 to 50 employees) – 1 July 2026
  • ‘Micro’ employer (14 employees or less) – 1 July 2027

The Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) is appointed as Pensions Commissioner under the Act to ensure that the requirements are complied with by both employers and the administrators of pension schemes.

The GFSC is responsible for establishing and maintaining a ‘Register of Employers Maintaining Pension Plans’. Every eligible employer is required to register, within 90 days of the dates above, by submitting the following information:

  • Documents evidencing the pension plan and evidencing the participation by employees.
  • The name, occupation, qualification and address of each person on the board of trustees and/or the name and address of the administrators of the pension plan.
  • Details of all employees participating in the pension plan.
  • Details of any employees who have elected not to participate in the pension plan.
  • The details of any employees who do not satisfy the eligibility criteria to join the pension plan, together with an explanation as to why.

Once the GFSC is satisfied that an application complies with the Act, it has 21 days to acknowledge the application and enter the details of the employer and its employees onto the register.

Employers are further obliged to inform the GFSC – within 30 days of the event – in respect of any of the following events:

  • A new employee being employed.
  • Termination of employment or redundancy of any employee.
  • Any material changes in the terms of employment of any employee.
  • A decision to join a pension plan by an existing employee who had previously decided not to join.

The position of Spanish-resident workers in Gibraltar, as to whether contributions to their Gibraltar pension plan will be accepted by the Spanish Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda) for Spanish tax relief purposes, has not yet been clarified.

As a result, we are seeing many Spanish resident workers electing not to participate in pension plans provided by employers in Gibraltar. Hopefully this issue will be addressed as part of the ongoing negotiations to establish Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union.

To assist Gibraltar employers of any size to meet their new ‘auto enrolment’ pension obligations, Sovereign Pension Services (Gibraltar) can design and set up Occupational Pension Schemes that will satisfy all the criteria under Private Sector Pensions Act. We also have the capacity and expertise to administer these pension plans on behalf of Gibraltar employers, such that clients can be assured of the maximum business benefit and the minimum business disruption.

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