Frequently Asked Questions

Do companies have to provide a pension in Ireland?

Employers in Ireland are not legally obliged to provide a pension scheme for employees, but that shouldn't stop you exploring all the options.

There is no obligation on an employer to provide a pension scheme for employees. However, employers in some sectors are obliged to provide a pension plan under the terms of a registered employment agreement (REA).

There is however an obligation on all employers to give each employee access to a PRSA. A PRSA is a Personal Retirement Savings Account that is a personally owned pension that lets you save for retirement even if there is no occupational pension scheme in place. An employer, must as a minimum, facilitate a PRSA through payroll so that employees can avail of this type of pension.

Whether part of a company pension scheme or saving through a PRSA, there is more than one way to enjoy your retirement and there is more than one type of pension.

What is an occupational pension?

An occupational pension scheme is a highly rewarding company incentive whereby both employee and employer contribute towards the employee's retirement fund. Whether you're an employee or an employer, there are many benefits of an occupational pension scheme.

Occupational pension schemes usually involve both employee and employer contributions. This type of pension plan involves an employer contributing to an employee's pension within the Defined Contribution scheme.

For the employee, occupational pensions are good news not only because they are a tax efficient way of saving for retirement, but also because the pension will grow quicker as a result of employer contributions rather than just relying on an employee's own contributions. And for an employer who provides an occupational pension scheme to its employees, from a HR perspective it acts as a good incentive for new employees thinking of joining the company and as a means of staff retention and motivation for existing employees.

What is the pension gap?

The amount people are currently saving compared to the income they will need to provide an adequate standard of living in retirement - is what is referred to as the pension gap. 

Do I need to think about auto enrolment?

Automatic enrolment in Ireland is being mooted as a measure that, if introduced, could bridge the pension gap. But how will auto-enrolment pension work and how can it affect your pension plan?

If introduced, automatic enrolment would see employers introduce a workplace pension scheme and automatically enrol their employees into the scheme. Employers would then be obliged to contribute a percentage of an employee's salary to help fund their retirement.

The Government is also supporting this idea in an effort to bridge the pension gap. This gap exists and will continue to grow because the State pension system will not be sustainable in the future due to increasing life expectancy and an ageing population.

Where can I find out more?

You can find information about your own company pension plan from your scheme advisor or the Trustees of your scheme.

For general information about pensions and your rights, visit the Pensions Authority website as they are the regulatory body for company pension schemes.

If you have a complaint about your company pension plan, you can contact the Pensions Ombudsman for an independent and impartial resolution.

What is a trustee?

As a trustee of a company pension scheme, you hold assets in the trust for the beneficiaries of a company pension scheme and as such have duties and responsibilities under trust law, under other relevant legislation to run the scheme properly to ensure that member’s benefits are secure.

Trustees have a duty to ensure that they are properly informed, particularly on legal issues and policy developments that may affect how they carry out their responsibilities.

As an employer, do I have to act as a trustee?

The key benefit of a master trust arrangement with Zurich is that all trustee duties are carried out by Zurich Ireland Master Trustee DAC (ZIMT).

Companies operating under the Zurich Master Trust arrangement will not need to appoint their own trustee boards to manage the associated governance and compliance requirements – all scheme governance is managed by ZIMT. ZIMT, a separate legal entity to Zurich Life Assurance plc, has a trustee board of directors comprising of five directors who are responsible for providing high quality scheme governance to the Zurich Master Trust.

The information contained herein is based on Zurich Life’s understanding of current Revenue practice as at January 2023 and may change in the future.

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