Stopping work or changing your pension

You may have to take time off work or stop working when you have cancer. This may affect your pension. If you stop working and paying into your pension, the final pension amount will be smaller. However, you may have insurance that continues to pay your contributions if you can’t work. Talk to your employer, HR department or pension scheme manager for more information about your situation.

Some people change their pensions if they move jobs or want to transfer to a better scheme. Some people also want to bring all their pensions together, which is called pension consolidation. You may want to get financial advice before transferring your pensions so you understand any benefits you are giving up. If you have lost track of pensions you used to pay into, the Pension Tracing Service can help you. This is a free service that can help you find lost pensions. Call them on 0345 6002 537.

Reducing your hours or stopping work

You may have to take time off work, or stop work, because of cancer or its treatment. If you are employed and use your holiday allowance to take time off, your pension will not be affected.

If you are unable to use your holiday allowance, there are different ways your pension could be affected:

  • If you are getting sick pay, you could continue to pay into your pension as normal, but this is not always the case. Employers have different sick pay schemes. The legal minimum for employers to pay is Statutory Sick Pay. This may not pay enough to cover your pension contributions. However, some employers offer more generous sick pay. This is called occupational or company sick pay.
  • If you reduce your working hours and are paid less, this will probably reduce your payments towards your pension.
  • If you stop working and stop paying money into your pension, your final pension will be smaller.

In any of these situations, exactly what happens depends on your work contract and the rules of the pension scheme. To check whether your pension will be affected by time off or reduced hours, talk to your employer, the HR department at work, or the pension scheme manager.

It is also worth checking whether you have any extra benefits with your policy. They could help you keep up your pension contributions. When you started your pension, you may have bought a type of insurance that would keep building your pension if you cannot work. This may be called pension contribution protection benefit or waiver of premium benefit. Talk to the scheme provider if you want to check this.

Changing and tracing pensions

Changing pensions

You may want to change your pension scheme if:

  • you get a new job
  • you want to move your pension (transfer it) to a better scheme
  • you have several pensions, perhaps from different jobs, and want to bring them together – this is called pension consolidation.

If you want to transfer your pension, speak to your current pension provider to find out whether this is possible. You should also speak to the provider you want to transfer to, as you may have to pay charges or fees on the transfer.

You will need to get financial advice before transferring your pension if:

  • you have a defined benefit scheme worth £30,000 or more
  • you have a defined contribution scheme worth £30,000 or more, and it comes with certain guarantees about what you will get when you retire.

This is to make sure you understand the benefits you are giving up.

The Pensions Advisory Service can give you free, impartial information about transferring and consolidating pensions.

Leaving a job

If you leave a job that you had a workplace pension with, the pension you built up will continue to belong to you. You will have options for what to do with it. This could include leaving the pension where it is until you can access it, or transferring it to a new scheme.

With a defined contribution scheme, it may be possible to keep paying into the pension. But your previous employer will no longer pay into it.

Tracing pensions

The Pension Tracing Service can help if:

  • you have lost track of pensions you used to pay into
  • you don’t know the details of the schemes you used to pay into.

It is a free service that can find lost pensions for you. It can also give you details of the pension provider. But it will not be able to tell you how much the pension is worth.

Back to Pensions

Understanding pensions

There are many different pension schemes available, including the State Pension that is paid by the government.

Accessing your pension

There are different ways of accessing your pension. This depends on your pension type and your illness.