Staff at South Yorkshire care home question employers in pensions row

A pensions row has broken out at a South Yorkshire care home company after staff claimed they had been left out of pocket.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 2:36 pm

Headquartered in Dinnington, Horizon Care is a family-run business that employs roughly 200 staff and operates a number of care homes across Rotherham and Sheffield.

Workers claim they have been deducting pensions from wages but the correct amounts were not reflected in their workplace scheme accounts under Nest Pensions.

The carers who approached The Star but wished to remain anonymous said the problem has not been resolved despite numerous complaints made to relevant parties.

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A pensions row has broken out after Horizon Care staff claimed they have been left out of pocket (pic: Matthias Zomer (Pexels stock photo))

The Star has also seen copies of payslips which showed that the amounts in their pension funds did not match the deductions.

A spokesman for Horizon Care said all deductions of pension contributions have been lawfully made but admitted the company has faced "significant difficulty" in resolving any matters or enquiries on behalf of their workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as the pension scheme is set up and operated by the government.

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A spokesperson for Horizon Care said: “We can confirm that a small number of staff have reported issues with pension enrolment completed in accordance with our legal duty and we continue to liaise directly with all our pension partners.

"We are committed to supporting staff to resolve these matters and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused to them.

"We are committed to supporting our staff pensions and supporting them to plan for their future. We thank our staff for continued hard work and dedication to caring for our clients”.

Unison Regional Organiser, Charlie Carruth who has been working closely with the affected employees said what is happening at Horizon Care is a "longstanding issue" and they had contacted them in the past to raise their concern.

He said: "It appears they weren't able to keep track of the pension contribution, when they will be paid and when they are paying into the pension.

"We are not accusing them of fraud but we are concerned and we did raise with them directly. They didn't seem to be clear on how the pension was paid and when the pension was paid.

"For example, I'd ask, could I have the breakdown of the pension of the last 12 months? They wouldn't be able to provide that."

He said Unison is now helping the affected employees by asking them to individually challenge the matter so they can take further action.

A carer, who has worked for the company for a few years, said the problems had prompted them to sign collective grievances.

"I had all my paperwork...I made a document which showed when I got paid and how much my contribution was, how much the company's contribution was and when it got paid into Nest,” the employee said.

Another carer said: "I myself have whistleblown to the pension regulators and they have done nothing about it all these years.

"I've got the union involved and all of us put in collective grievances where we all met the Human Resources and all they could say was they were working on it and blamed Nest for not communicating with them."

Nest Pension, when asked for a response, said it was not able to comment on confidential details relating to the employers who use Nest or their members.

A spokesperson said: "Making pension contributions is a legal requirement and we are committed to making sure employers are compliant and members receive the contributions in their accounts that they have worked to earn.

"All employers who use Nest as their pension provider sign our terms and conditions which require them to provide accurate information for their workers which includes, among other things, contributions and enrolment eligibility.

"There is a legal obligation for employers to re-enrol all eligible workers into a workplace pension, but this is on a three-yearly basis."

Nest said it has a process for reporting employers who do not make pension contributions on time, which involves four notifications over a 90-day period before reporting them to the regulators. This occurs after each month contributions may be missed.

The Pensions Regulators, however, declined to confirm or deny whether they are currently investigating Horizon Care Homes when asked.