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Key points

  • Public service schemes cover some but not all workers in the public sector.
  • Scheme managers and pension board members must meet a number of legal requirements under the Public Service Pensions Acts.
  • The Pensions Regulator oversees and regulates the governance and administration of public service schemes in the UK.

Schemes that are public service pensions

Public service schemes are those covering:

  • civil servants
  • the judiciary
  • local government workers
  • teachers
  • health service workers
  • fire and rescue workers
  • members of police forces
  • members of the armed forces

They may also include some public body schemes in the future.

Each public service scheme has scheme regulations which set out details of the membership and benefits to be provided under the scheme. They also identify scheme managers, and provide for pension boards and scheme advisory boards to be established. The regulations form the scheme rules.

Legal requirements

A number of different types of people are involved with governing and administering public service schemes. For more information, go to roles and responsibilities.

Scheme managers must comply with a number of legal requirements:

All people involved in governing and administering public service schemes should have the appropriate skills and expertise. However, there’s a specific legal obligation on pension board members to have knowledge and understanding of their scheme rules, their scheme’s documented administration policies and pensions law.

Code of practice

We’ve developed a code of practice that sets out the legal requirements, gives practical guidance and sets standards that we expect of people involved with public service pension schemes.

We've also developed an essential guide to the public service code (PDF, 46kb, 8 pages). This provides an overview of the code for scheme managers and pension board members.

Regulation of public service schemes

The Pensions Regulator

The regulator is responsible for overseeing and regulating the governance and administration of public service schemes in the UK.

We provide information, education and assistance to managers, pension boards, administrators, employers and others to help them comply with the law and follow good practice. Where necessary, we will use our powers to put things right and to keep schemes on track.

Government departments

The Treasury (the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland) and the Department for Work and Pensions (the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland) are responsible for creating legislation relating to public service pension schemes in the UK.

For example, the Treasury was responsible for the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, whereas the Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for making regulations about record-keeping requirements.