When it comes to pension advice for locums, the arrangements you can or should make are likely to depend upon your area of specialism and the nature of your contract. In some cases, locums are eligible to join existing pension schemes and benefit from employer contributions, but this isn’t always the case. Let’s take a look.
Despite being self-employed, locum GPs that meet specific criteria are eligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme. Those criteria are that they are on the medical performers list, and that they undertake work directly for a recognised NHS employer – for example, an NHS general practice, an out-of-hours service provider, or the primary care organisation (PCO) itself. If you work via a third party, such as an agency or your own limited company, you are not eligible to join the pension scheme.
Provided a locum dentist is qualified, and working – even on an occasional basis – at a general dental services (GDS) or personal dental services (PDS) practice on a GDS/PDS contract, then they are eligible for the NHS Pension Scheme. Income from a third party, such as an agency, may not be pensioned, and locums operating via their own limited company are also ineligible.
The National Probation Service is covered by the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). If you work on a contract lasting longer than three months, you will be automatically enrolled in the scheme; if your contract is for a shorter duration, you may apply to join, but depending upon your circumstances you may be better off simply making your own private pension arrangements.
All teachers, whether they work full-time, part-time, or on a supply basis, automatically become members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. As with earlier examples, supply teachers working via an agency aren’t eligible to join the scheme.
Private Pension Arrangements
If you work via an agency or your own limited company, or perhaps are a locum vet or social worker, you’ll need to make separate arrangements for your pension. Assuming you operate as a limited company, you can fund your pension through the business and take advantage of the resulting savings on corporation and personal tax.
If you operate as a sole trader, then you’ll need to organise and contribute to a personal pension scheme, but you’ll be able to claim tax relief for the contribution on your annual tax return.
As with all things financial, do your research and get specialist advice before committing to any course of action, to make sure you select the best option for you and your unique set of circumstances.