The University of Sheffield Pension Scheme (USPS)

These pages provide information for University staff about the USPS.ABACUS

The USPS is available to all University staff on grades 1 to 5 (or equivalent) and other certain categories of employee.  The Scheme operates on a Cash Balance basis from 1 December 2011, but before that, it was a final salary scheme. 

Members of the USPS build up a guaranteed level of benefits (expressed in cash terms) which can be accessed at retirement as a tax-free cash sum and/or used to provide an income for life through the purchase of an annuity. The benefits built up each year depend on the benefit tier you choose and range from 10% to 27% of pensionable pay for each year of membership (or up to 28% of pensionable pay for staff who were previously members of the final salary scheme on 30 November 2011).

The level of member contribution is flexible and can be amended annually (or following a "lifestyle event") to suit your circumstances. Member contributions can range from 2% of pensionable pay up to 10%.

A table of member contribution levels and corresponding benefits is shown below. 

All members
USPS members as at 30 November 2011
Member contribution
(% of pensionable pay)
Total credit at normal pension age (including member contribution)

If you are auto-enrolled into the USPS, you will enter at the 4% member contribution level.  If you wish to contribute at a different level, you can change the amount you contribute by completing a Change of Contribution form.  If you do not meet the criteria for auto-enrolment, you can still join the Scheme by completing an Opt In form.  

In addition to building up funds for your retirement, your dependants will receive a cash lump sum equivalent to 4 times your salary plus all of your contributions into the plan, in the unfortunate event of your death whilst you are a contributing member.  Please note that if you do not join the Scheme at your first opportunity or opt-out of membership and later elect to re-join, you may be subject to medical underwriting.  This may mean that you might not be covered for the 4 times salary death in service benefit. 

Benefits may also be payable in the event of ill-health preventing you from working in the future. You must be a member of the USPS to be eligible as this is a Scheme benefit, not an Employer benefit. Please note that life cover and the availability of ill-health benefits may be subject to relevant health checks on joining the scheme and may be restricted.  You will be informed if any restrictions apply to you.

Information on the final salary section of USPS which closed to future accrual of benefits on 1 December 2011 is available here.  This section will only be relevant for staff who were members of USPS on or before 30 November 2011.

Important Information

Privacy Notice - General Data Protection Regulation

Please see the Privacy Notice issued by the Trustee of USPS.  This confirms the nature of the data held by the Trustee and its purpose.  Please take the time to read this and if you have any queries or concerns, the Privacy Notice contains the details of who you can contact for more information.

The Scheme's Actuarial Advisers, Willis Towers Watson, also provide various services such as carrying out the triennial valuation which assesses the financial health of the Scheme every three years.  They act as a "data controller" for the personal data they use and a link to their Privacy Notice can be found here.

Automatic Enrolment for Pensions

Since 1 April 2013, the University of Sheffield has been legally required to automatically enrol any eligible employees (who are not already members of a qualifying pension arrangement) into a pension scheme. Eligibility for automatic membership is determined by age and earnings, but even if you do not meet these criteria, you can still ask to opt into membership of the pension scheme.  To opt into membership, please complete an Opt In form.

If you are auto-enrolled into the USPS, you will enter at the minimum qualifying level of 4%, with a corresponding credit of 15% of pensionable pay.  If you do not wish to contribute at this level, you can switch to a different tier by completing a Change of Contribution form.

In addition, the University is legally required to re-assess those who have previously opted out of membership once every three years following the original enrolment date of 1 April 2013 (e.g. 1 April 2016, 1 April 2019 and so on). Therefore, if someone who has previously opted out then meets the age and earnings criteria, once re-assessed, they must again be re-enrolled into a qualifying pension scheme. If you are contributing at the 2% (non-qualifying) level when this happens, you will automatically be re-enrolled into the minimum qualifying level (currently 4%).

This legislation is part of a Government initiative to encourage more people to save for their retirement through increased pension scheme membership across the whole country. The University is obliged, under law, to put you into membership of a pension scheme if you meet the automatic enrolment, or re-enrolment, criteria. The University will write to any members of staff that are automatically enrolled to confirm that this has been done and what action, if any, the employee needs to take. You do have the option to opt out of membership and information about how to do this will be included with the written enrolment information. Please note that, under law, you cannot opt out of membership until after you have been officially enrolled in the scheme, meaning after the date you receive the enrolment letter.

Please note that if you are under 75, work or usually work in the UK, and earn over £10,000 a year (the amount set by the Government for the 2018-2019 tax year) we must by law automatically enrol you into a pension scheme. If you commence employment part way through a month with earnings in that month of less than £833.33, you will not be auto-enrolled. You will, however, be auto-enrolled the first time your monthly pay reaches or exceeds this amount (for many people, this will be the first complete month after commencing employment).

Please note that we are also required to maintain your membership of a scheme that meets certain government standards if your membership of a pension scheme ends and it is not because of something you do or fail to do. We must in this event put you into another scheme that meets Government standards straightaway.

If you would like further information on how to join a pension scheme, or have queries about your existing scheme membership, please contact the Pensions Team.

Salary Sacrifice for Pensions

The USPS operate on a salary sacrifice basis. All members will be automatically switched to salary sacrifice in their 4th month of membership unless they opt-out of salary sacrifice. For the majority of members, salary sacrifice reduces the National Insurance contributions paid by both the employee and employer. However, it does mean that if you leave or opt-out of the scheme after the switch to salary sacrifice occurs, you will no longer be able to obtain a refund of contributions (where this would otherwise be available) in respect of salary sacrifice membership. Please go to our salary sacrifice pages for further information on how salary sacrifice works and how it may impact you.

Annual Benefit Statements

Benefit statements are usually provided annually and represent a "snap shot" of your expected retirement benefits at a given point in time. Consequently, they assume that all things remain unchanged until you reach retirement age. As such, they are not guaranteed and should not be relied upon in planning for your retirement.

The Scheme underwent significant changes on 1 December 2011 which resulted in a temporary suspension in the production of annual statements. It was necessary to take this step whilst the new statements were being developed and member records verified. Although the suspension of automatic statements has caused inconvenience to some, individual statements continued to be issued on request.

The distribution of annual benefit statements to active members resumed in October 2017 and showed your benefits as at 31 March 2017 (you will not have received a statement if you joined the Scheme after this date).  If you think you should receive a statement and haven't received one, please contact the Pensions Team.

The statements will show your Cash Balance benefits, and, if you were a member prior to 1 December 2011, your final salary benefits also.  Statements showing benefits as at 31 March 2018 will be distributed to active members in the Autumn.  Please keep checking back for further updates.

Call for Member Nominated Trustee Directors

Could you be the next Member Nominated Trustee Director?

Many occupational pension schemes in the UK, including the USPS, are set up as trusts. This provides security for members’ benefits by ensuring that the assets of the pension scheme are kept separate from those of the employer.

The Scheme has a corporate trustee, a limited company called The University of Sheffield Pension Scheme Trustee Limited (‘the Trustee’). There are currently two vacancies to become a Member Nominated Trustee Director for the Scheme.  To be eligible, you need to fall within one or more of the following constituencies of member:

• Cash Balance: you are a current active member of the Cash Balance Section of the Scheme

• Salary Linked: you have deferred final salary benefits which continue to be linked to your salary through continued employment with the University (or associated employers) either because you were an active member of the Scheme on 30 November 2011 when the Final Salary Section closed, or you ceased to be an active member of the Scheme between 1 October 2010 and 31 May 2011 (inclusive) and were eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme thereafter

• Pensioner: you are currently a pensioner member of the Scheme

As a Trustee, you will be able to make an impact on the management of the Scheme. You will receive Trustee training and support for the role.

The work is varied, interesting and rewarding. In this role, you will:
• Ensure that all members receive the benefits to which they are entitled on a timely basis
• Have a working knowledge of key Scheme documents, such as the Scheme Rules
• Ensure that the Scheme complies with all statutory requirements
• Appoint professional advisers to help with running the Scheme
• Monitor the security of members’ benefits and ensure that the Scheme is adequately funded
• Ensure that the assets of the Scheme are invested and held securely and kept separate from those of the University
• Exercise discretionary powers in certain situations.

The Trustee will be writing out to all eligible members to invite nominations during June 2018.  Please look out for this and if you would like more information or wish to apply, please write to Mrs J Garner, Secretary to the Trustee, Addleshaw Goddard LLP, 3 Sovereign Square, Sovereign Street, Leeds, LS1 4ER.

Please note that the benefits payable from the USPS are determined by the Trust Deed and Rules of the Scheme.  In the event of any dispute or discrepancy, the Trust Deed and Rules will prevail.

Need Help or More Information?

If you are visiting the Department of Finance in person then you can find out more about how to find us and our opening times.

Who to Contact
If you have queries about your salary payments and deductions please contact the Payroll Office

If you have queries about core or lifestyle benefits please contact the rewards and benefits team on 0114 22 21490 or at

Postal Address:
Pensions Office, Department of Finance, University of Sheffield, Firth Court, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN

Location Address:
Pensions Office, Finance Department, Arts Tower, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN