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  • What happens to your pension when you leave a job

    Your workplace pension is a valuable asset, and one you won’t want to lose track of. If you’ve had more than one employer or you’re thinking of leaving your job, you can take your pension with you. Here’s how.

    Last Updated: 23 May 2023

    This article isn’t personal advice, information correct on 16 May 2023. Pension and tax rules can change, and any benefits depend on your circumstances. If you’re not sure what’s right for your circumstances, please seek financial advice.

    What happens to my pension pot when I leave my employer?

    When you leave your employer, you won’t lose the benefits you built up in your pension, since the fund belongs to you.

    You continue to remain a member of the pension scheme and your pension stays invested as it was.

    However, all contributions from your employer and, usually, you into your workplace pension pot will end automatically.

    From this point on you’ll need to communicate directly with your pension provider and keep them up to date with any changes to your personal circumstance (e.g. changes to your name or address). You may be able to continue to pay into the pension, but you’ll need to apply to do this with your provider directly.

    As you keep your details up to date with your provider, you should continue to get annual statements and have access to your account and see your investments (which you could also change).

    Can I set up a new pension after I leave my job?

    Yes. When you’re working again, and if you’re eligible, you'll be automatically enrolled by your new employer and can start paying into your new workplace pension. You can also set up a personal pension alongside your workplace pension if you’d like.

    If you become self-employed you will be responsible for setting up and choosing your own pension scheme. You could use the National Employment Saving Trust (NEST) pension scheme or an alternative, for example:

    • A personal pension
    • A stakeholder pension (a simple pension with capped charges and limited investment choice)
    • A Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP), with flexible payment options and wide investment choice

    You’ll usually need to be at least 55 (rising to 57 from 2028) before you can access the money in your pension.

    Can I transfer my old workplace pension when I leave my job?

    Yes, you can. And if you’ve got multiple pension pots laying around, consolidating pensions into one account could make them easier to manage. But before you do anything, make sure you compare the benefits and features of your current pension against the new pension you’re considering transferring to.

    Check what the scheme rules are around your retirement age, and whether the investment choice available matches your attitude to risk and financial aims. Some older pension schemes offer limited investment choice and can’t be managed online or through a mobile app.

    Make sure you won’t be giving up value benefits or guarantees. You should also compare all charges (including exit costs). And check how easy it is to manage and access your pension online.

    If you’ve got a defined-benefit (DB) pension scheme, transferring this to a personal plan is probably not in your best interest. These pensions can be really valuable and are rare nowadays. They give you a guaranteed income, but they also offer benefits to a spouse or partner once you die.

    More on transferring a pension

    How do I find a pension from an old employer?

    Look through your paperwork for any annual pension statements or starter packs you got when you first joined the scheme.

    If you’re not sure whether you had a pension with an old employer, you could look through your old employment contracts or payslips for any signs of pension contribution deductions. And if you’re still struggling, contact them directly to ask for details of the pension scheme they offered at the time of your employment, including the provider’s details.

    More on lost pensions and how to find them

    Our pension transfer team is here to help

    If you have any questions about transferring a pension, our experienced pensions helpdesk is on hand. Call us on 0117 980 9926 and they can help you talk through pensions and transferring in more detail.

    Alternatively if you’re unsure what’s right for you and want to find out more about our advisory services you can book a free consultation with our advisory helpdesk.

    They won’t give you personal advice, but they will explain how an adviser can help meet your goals, what benefits you might see from taking advice and how much it costs. They can then put you in touch with one of our financial advisers if you’d like them to.

    If you’d like to learn more about our advice service, you can visit our financial advice page. You’ll only pay for the advice you need.

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