Where a member of an occupational pension scheme leaves his or her employment after two years’ or more qualifying service, the member is entitled to a minimum level of preserved benefit under that scheme, referred to as a ‘short-service benefit’.

If the leaver has less than two years’ qualifying service, the scheme is not obliged to provide the member with a benefit. In these circumstances, the pensions legislation allows a refund (a ‘short-service refund lump sum’) of the member’s contributions to be made if the scheme chooses to do so. However, schemes may offer the choice of a preserved benefit or a transfer payment to another scheme.

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