Sample letter

Here, as promised, is a sample letter (drafted by the NUJ) to send back to HR (or your manager) when you get the BBC’s formal notification of your pay rise, combined with the threat to remove the pay rise if you don’t agree to the changes to your pension. It’s written semi legally, but what it basically means is that you think the BBC’s attempt to bypass the rules of the pension scheme and make a pay rise conditional on you signing away your pension rights is illegal. It then says that you would like to reserve your position subject to any legal action. If you’re not a member of the NUJ just change that bit to say “I understand that the NUJ will be taking steps…”

The BBC will reply with a scary looking email, but my understanding is that you don’t need to do anything more at this stage.

 

Dear [ ]

Thank you for your letter offering me a pay rise, subject to the conditions set out in the letter.

 I believe that the conditions are unlawful in the following respects.

 1. By imposing these conditions, you are acting in breach of the implied term of trust and confidence. It is clear that you have structured the pay award in a way which seeks to use it for an ulterior purpose, namely to force me either to accept a change in the definition of pensionable salary for the purposes of my pension benefits (a change which you have not been able to achieve lawfully under the power of amendment in the scheme rules) and/or to seek to force me to transfer my membership to the CAB 2011 or LifePlan Scheme. Neither of these objectives is a legitimate use of a pay award which should be used to reflect the effort and hard work that I have committed to the business and to cushion me from the impact of rises in the cost of living.

 2. In structuring the pay award as you have, any acceptance by me would involve a breach of Section 91 of the Pensions Act 1995.

 In the circumstances I propose the following.

 (a) I ask you to keep the offer open for acceptance by me pending a determination by the Court of the matters referred to above. I understand that my trade union (the NUJ) will be taking steps imminently to seek to have these issues of law considered by the Court as soon as possible. In the circumstances I would ask that your offer remain open for acceptance for 7 days after the Court has ruled on these issues (subject, of course, to any appeal, in which case the offer will remain open for 7 days after the final appeal outcome is known).

 (b) If you will not do so then I will accept your offer. However this acceptance would not involve any waiver of my right to have the Section 91 issue resolved by the Court in due course.

 I put you on notice that I consider that any decision to refuse to accept either of the two options identified above would amount to a further breach by you of the implied term of trust and confidence.

 Yours etc.

 

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3 Responses to “Sample letter”

  1. Fiona Blair Says:

    Just checking someone sent you this info:

    The High Court challenge, of the NUJ and the Musicians’ Union, to the lawfulness of the BBC’s changes to our pension scheme, is scheduled to be heard at the High Court in London at 10:00 am, next Monday, 16th January.

    The NUJ are expecting a 10.30am kickoff. The venue is the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand – just 2 minutes’ walk from Bush House.

    The hearing will be open to the public. A gaggle of us are planning to going along (schedule permitting), and anyone is very welcome to join us. Drop me a line or just turn up on the day.

    Both (@NUJ_Michelle) and Tory Blair (@MissToryBlair) are planning to tweet from the courtroom during the hearing.

    It’s not impossible that the judge will make a ruling on the spot, but given the complexity of some of the issues it’s more likely that s/he’ll need to go away and think about it. In which case we can expect a decision within a month.

  2. Dizzy Ringo Says:

    I think you ought to be looking at the performance of your pension fund.

    As I understand it, there are lots of investments in lovely green companies. You may then wish to look at how many of these are going down the drain.

    And whilst you are busy hanging on to your defined benefit pension, funded by the tax payer – and lots of pensioners – just consider whether such a scheme is sustainable when the private sector is making do on a defined contribution scheme.

    • renouj21 Says:

      I’m not quite sure what your point is about the performance of the pension fund.
      As for the point about “hanging on” to a defined benefit scheme; yes, that’s right, I am hanging on to it. First of all because I’ve paid contributions all my working life (i.e. deferred my salary) on the basis of a pensions promise by my employer – that there would be a defined benefit at the end of those payments. Now I find that the BBC is unilaterally changing the terms of that contract, so my years of contributions are significantly devalued. Second, I do not believe in a “race to the bottom”. Defined contribution schemes are inferior to defined benefit schemes, so rather than pushing everyone onto inferior pension schemes, why not fight to defend a better scheme, and make it harder for employers – public or private – to devalue pensions?

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