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. It’s a free service that can help you find lost pensions. Call them on 0345 6002 537.

Reducing your hours or stopping work

When you are affected by cancer, you may have to take time off work or stop work altogether.

  • If you use your holiday allowance to take time off, your pension won’t be affected. Once you have used your allowance, your pension may 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. Nearly everyone with an employer gets at least 28 weeks of sick pay during a period of illness.
  • If you reduce your working hours and are paid less, this is likely to reduce the workplace pension you are building up.

In any of these situations, exactly what happens depends on your work contract and the rules of the pension scheme.

To check if 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.

If you stop working

If you stop paying money into it, your final pension will be smaller.

Check whether your personal pension came with insurance that continues to pay your contributions if you can’t work because of illness. This is called pension contribution protection benefit or a waiver of premium benefit. You should also check for life insurance as some older pension schemes will provide it too.

To check the rules and options for a personal pension, read the scheme’s policy document or talk to the provider.

We have more information about coping with the impact of cancer on work. It also has tips on talking about cancer in the workplace.

Changing and tracing pensions

Changing pensions

You may want to change your pension scheme if:

  • you get a new job
  • you want to transfer to a better scheme
  • you have multiple 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 tax or fees on the transfer.

If your current pension has some valuable guarantees attached, you may need to get financial advice before transferring. This is to make sure you understand the benefits you are giving up.

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

Leaving a job

If you leave a job that you had a workplace pension through, it may be possible to keep paying into your own arrangement if you don’t want to make a transfer. Your previous employer will just no longer pay into it. This does not apply to defined benefit schemes.

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 won’t be able to tell you how much the pension is worth.

Visit GOV.UK to fill in an online form, or call 0345 6002 537.