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Asking the hard questions about your pension

pensions checklistA pension is a key part of the pay package offered by an employer, and a good pension can add as much as a quarter to the value of your salary. Particularly if you intend to work for an employer for more than a short time, you should do your research and ask some hard questions about the pension arrangements on offer.

Although there will be complicated differences between pension schemes, employers should be able to provide a straightforward overview of their scheme to job applicants, enough to give the basic answers you need to make a decision.

Too many job seekers, particularly young people, fail to understand how much a good pension scheme contributes to the pay and conditions of a job, and don't understand how to make comparisons between different types of pensions scheme. Unless you have no choice, you should be prepared to say no to an employer who's offering you a poor or non-existent pension. A good pension is much more valuable than gimmicky benefits like duvet days, dress-down Fridays, or discount breakdown insurance.

We've set out the questions that you should ask, together with explanations of what they mean and how to evaluate the answer, so that you look as though you know what you're talking about, and a handy checklist to help you sort the answers you receive.

Obviously, we don't suggest you try asking all these questions in a job interview, but you should be able to get the answers you need with a quick phone call to the personnel department.

You can:

The full advice pack is in Adobe pdf format, so if you don't yet have free Adobe reader software, you may need to download this too in order to use the information pack.