Do I get a pension and how does it work?

By Luke Aldred

​As an international worker, you – like all people employed in the UK – are entitled to make a pension plan to help you save money for later life. There are a few ways to do this:

State 2nd Pension Scheme

This is a State Pension as provided by the UK government, and the cheapest of the main schemes available. If you are a national of an EU or EEA member state, your contributions to a state pension throughout the EU will be harmonised. This also applies to individuals from selected countries with which the UK has entered into a social security agreement, including countries such as Barbados, Chile, Israel, the Philippines and others.

Personal Pension Plan

This can be arranged by an insurance company or a bank. You pay contributions that are enhanced by Income Tax and National Insurance. The tax is calculated using the highest rate paid by the employee and is added to your contribution.

Occupational Pension Schemes (OPS)

Also called workplace pensions, an OPS is something you’ll be auto enrolled onto. This is where both the employee and employer pay a contribution, meaning that your benefits are guaranteed and not subject to fluctuations in the stock market. The scheme also provides members with free Life Assurance. Find out more about workplace pensions.

If you’re coming to the UK to work for an NHS Trust, the NHS Pension Scheme is what you’ll be auto enrolled onto. It’s a defined benefit public service pension scheme, which operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. A new, reformed scheme was introduced in 2015 and calculates pension benefits based on career average earnings. Find out more about the scheme.

If you are planning on staying in the UK long-term, you may also want to find out about UK citizenship.

Opting Out

You can opt-out of a workplace pension, but it will mean you’ll lose out on the employer / Government contributions. This is a big decision, so why not talk to your HR team or colleagues, or your friends and family to get their opinion on what you should do.

If you do choose to opt-out, you’ll need to ask the pension provider for an opt-out form (you can get these details from your employer). You can return the completed form to your employer or the pension provider directly. If the form is returned within one month of you being auto enrolled, any money you paid into the scheme will be refunded in full.

For more information on moving to the UK, read our collection of blogs.