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Maintaining contributions in DC schemes

As a trustee of a defined contribution (DC) pension scheme you have a specific role to play in ensuring that contributions to the scheme are paid. You need to make sure you know and understand what your duties are and act upon them.

If your scheme is a defined benefit scheme and you need to report a late payment go to notifiable events.

Key points

  • You are responsible for monitoring contributions to your pension scheme.
  • You need to take steps to recover missed or late payments quickly and efficiently.
  • You must report any materially significant payment failures to the regulator in good time.

Understand your obligations

It’s important that you understand your obligation to effectively monitor the pension scheme. Even if you outsource the administration of the scheme you still need to ensure it is monitored effectively.

In particular you need to know:

  • when you need to report a payment failure to the regulator
  • what constitutes a ‘materially significant payment failure’
  • when and how to report.

You need to ensure that you:

  • take responsibility for monitoring contributions
  • take steps to recover and remedy missed or late payments quickly and efficiently
  • ensure you report any materially significant payment failures to the regulator in good time.

You will also have to inform your members if such a payment failure occurs. This is a legal duty.

What you must report

Examples of material payment failures that you need to report to the regulator:

  • Where trustees have reasonable cause to believe that the employer is not willing to pay the outstanding contributions. Where the trustees’ reminder and recovery process has been exhausted without response from the employer or without them having obtained the outstanding payment they may assume this indicates an employer’s unwillingness to pay.
  • Where there is a payment failure involving possible dishonesty or a misuse of assets or contributions. For example, trustees may have concerns that the employer is retaining and using contributions to assist cash flow difficulties or where trustees have become aware that the employer has transferred contributions elsewhere other than to the scheme.
  • Where there is a failure to pay contributions which carries a criminal penalty. For example, information available to the trustees may indicate that the employer is knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the obligation to pay employee contributions.
  • Where the trustees become aware that the employer does not have adequate procedures or systems in place to ensure the correct and timely payment of contributions due and the employer appears not to be taking adequate steps to remedy the situation, for example where there are repetitive and regular payment failures.
  • And in any event where contributions have been outstanding for 90 days from the due date.

What you don't need to report

Examples of what you shouldn’t normally report to the regulator:

  • Where trustees have entered into a payment arrangement with the employer for the recovery of the outstanding contributions and the employer is paying in accordance with that arrangement.
  • Where a claim has been submitted to the Redundancy Payments Office National Insurance Fund or the Northern Ireland Redundancy Payments Service.
  • Where there are infrequent one-off payment failures or administrative errors resulting from, for example employees leaving the scheme or employment, new employees joining, or changes in salary not being notified promptly to the trustees, and those occasional failures or errors have been corrected within 90 days of the due date.
  • Where payments are made in excess of the contributions due under the payment schedule.
  • Where contributions are paid late but in full and within 90 days of the due date.

How to report material payment failures

This section provides you with information on how to use our maintaining contributions online service to report material payment failures from employers to your DC scheme.

Using this online service will help you ensure that you're able to report your material payment failures in line with our code of practice.

There are two different ways to report, depending on your role and the nature of the report that you need to make. You can either submit a single report or a bulk report.

  • Single report: we recommend using this option when you have a small number of payment failures to report.
  • Bulk report: we recommend using this option when you have a large number of payment failures to report to save you time on entering data. You can download a copy of our standardised data template once you're logged in to the service. Our template below contains information on the data you must provide, along with some additional guidance.

For more information on how to use the service please see our quick guide to reporting material payment failures below.

If you have any queries please see our reporting material payment failures questions and answers. You can send any queries not answered here to