Retail e-briefing: how should pension schemes treat same-sex married couples and civil partners

Next year, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 will make it lawful for same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales. The act is due to come into force in summer 2014. (It will not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland.)  

Employers and pension scheme trustees will need to consider how they will treat same-sex married couples in respect of survivors’ benefits under their scheme. References to ‘marriage’ and related terms under scheme rules will also need to be updated. However, any such decisions are likely to be influenced by the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Walker v Innospec, a case concerning the entitlement of a surviving civil partner to a spouse’s pension under an occupational pension scheme. The appeal in that case is due to be heard in January 2014.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 17 July 2013. The provisions in the act that make same-sex marriage lawful in England and Wales are not yet in force, but they are expected to be brought into force next summer…

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