LGPS and the employer role
The LGPS requires employers to take an active role for scheme members - their employees.
We provide template formats for you where the regulations require the employer to take the lead in providing or collecting information and decision making. Otherwise please use our general forms.
MARS administration report
All employers must submit their pension’s data monthly within the deadlines.
- The employee and employer contribution return
- The monthly administration report including ‘CARE pay’ known as MARS
Both reports should be returned to email@example.com
The deadline for these reports is before 19th of the month following the deduction of contributions.
Please note: the MARS return is being phased out. Pension Fund Committee would like this manual process replaced by the automated i-Connect by August 2020 - see below.
i-Connect - transferring data direct to pension records
i-Connect is a data platform for employers and the Pension Fund for data exchange. Information moves from payroll systems and updates directly to the Oxfordshire pension record system. The data transfer will automatically identify all starters, leavers and changes to salary and member details
i-Connect will help employers identify the information they have a statutory duty to supply.
Are there set up costs?
There is no software to purchase as the data passes through a secure web portal. Although any employer with internet access can use the system, you may need to factor in:
- development time. This cost will vary, depending on your payroll provider.
- changes to your timetable and resources. You will have to manage inconsistency questions promptly
- initial and ongoing training
Small employers can choose to input the data manually into i-Connect, while larger employers can upload a monthly file after running their monthly payroll.
We will give full training and work with you to make your transfer ‘onboarding’ as smooth as possible.
Do we have to provide any additional information?
The data requirements are like those currently required on our MARS return, however
- for the file upload option, the file is one long extract.
- for leavers, we request that you finalise the member’s ‘final pay’, instead of providing the salary break down. (We will provide guidance) Please contact us for ‘final pay’ training
- we ask for ‘Year to date’ information on pensionable pay, member and employer contributions.
- the extract will pick up employer and employee contributions. This change will allow monthly reconciliation rather than at year end.
The i-Connect steps
Decide your approach
Data can be submitted through i-Connect either
- Directly online – recommended for employers with less than 50 members and very few monthly data changes
- Via a CSV file – recommended for all employers with 50 or more members.
Providing a test file
Once the Oxfordshire Pension Fund have received the payroll extract we can perform necessary validation and formatting checks to highlight any potential errors and returned to you
i-Connect will automatically match, where possible, each separate post on your payroll system to a corresponding pension record on the Oxfordshire Pension system. The matching process uses 5 primary fields
- NI Number
- Payroll Reference
Directly online or using a CSV file. We will guide you through the process or arrange a training session at our office. If you want to see a preview demonstration, please contact us.
During the testing phase we will ask for i-Connect files and MARS files to run alongside each for three months to check the data. We will provide online or on-site training. Once both parties are happy with upload or file we can arrange the ‘Go Live’ date.
Contact details for starting the process
Pension.employers@Oxfordshire.gov.uk or telephone Julie Skelly on 01865 323663.
Already signed up and using i-Connect?
Conversion from MARS to i-Connect is already underway for some fund employers. Once you have moved to the i-Connect process if you encounter any problems with your monthly file contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 0241 359, option 3.
Template letters and forms issued by employers
- Introduction to LGPS for new starters (docx format, 227KB). Add your own logo, your information about assessing the member’s contribution rate, where to find and who to contact for more information.
Members’ elections into the 50/50 section and to return to the main scheme- for each template add in your own logo and contact details before sending to your employee. After taking the requested payroll action, send fully completed forms to Pension Services.
- Election to 50/50 section (docx format, 68Kb)
- Election to return to main section (docx format, 61Kb)
Add in your own logo and contacts. Personalise these letters by adding in other details about your employment arrangements for taking unpaid leave.
- Absence 1 (docx format, 764Kb): to alert employees that a period of unpaid leave could have an effect on their pension and they need to take their own steps.
- Absence 2 (docx format, 767Kb): template letter to issue on return to work. Gives employee all the information they need to get a quote and application form using the interactive tool on
- Please direct members and general enquiries about costs of reinstating lost pension to the national website www.lgpsmember.org.
Add your own logo, adjust to suit your policy statement and process, personalise the form to enable your employees to ask you to consider flexible retirement. More information about flexible retirement.
- Flexible retirement request template form (doc format, 231Kb)
- HR request for flexible retirement estimates (docx format Kb)
- Flexible retirement notification to Pension Services form (docx format)
Death in Service
Full details about the process and background information for employers
Monthly spreadsheets MARS
For full details and guidance about the MARS return .
End of year routines
Remember the two years vesting period before ill health retirement pension. Always check with Pension Services to ensure the member can qualify
More information for employers about the ill health process.
Certificates the employer or former employer must make the final decisions, collect information and record decisions. Be sure to use the correct certificate, they are not transferable The most frequently used certificates are in the list below. Others, required less often, are also listed, but you must request these from Pension Services.
Most frequently used certificates
- Ill health certificate: current employee Medical certificate - Reference 1 document (docx format, 90Kb)
- Ill health certificate: compulsory 18-month review of Tier 3 pension - Reference 7 document
Early payment of a deferred pension on health grounds
- Ill health certificate, member with deferred pension, left employment after 31 March 2014 (reference 11) (docx format, 783Kb)
- Ill health certificate, member with deferred pension, left employment after 31 March 2008 and before 1 April 2014 (reference2) (docx format, 80Kb)
- Ill health certificate, member with a deferred pension, left the LGPS after 31 March 1998 and before 1 April 2008 (docx format, 771Kb) (reference 3)
- Ill health certificate, member with a deferred pension, left the LGPS before 1 April 1998 (reference 4) (docx format, 82Kb).
Other reasons for medical certificates
Request these documents from Pension Services:
- Tier three pension in payment – Member requests review within 3 years of leaving. Leaver after 31.3.2014 (reference 8)
- Tier three pension suspended – member requests review after 3 years from leaving, leaver after 31.3.2014 (reference 9)
- Tier three pension suspended – member request review more than 3 years after pension stopped, leaver before 1.4.2014 (reference 12)
- Request for early payment of deferred pension on health grounds for former elected member (reference 6).
A member with a deferred pension should use Early ill health request form (pdf format, 137Kb) to start the enquiry about early payment.
If you need alternative formats of this information, please contact Pension Services in the first instance.