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What to do if you suspect your pension monies have been stolen

IN A NUTSHELL: Pension fund theft is more prevalent than you might think. It’s crucial to take immediate action if you suspect that your employer is not transferring your retirement contributions to the fund. Here’s a step-by-step checklist of  what to do: 

1. Check your documents for discrepancies

  • Review your payslips: Check whether retirement fund contributions are being deducted from your salary as per your employment contract.
  • Review your fund benefit statements: Request a benefit statement from your fund and check whether your contributions have been credited to your account within the retirement fund.

2. Get in touch with your employer and retirement fund

  • Contact your HR department or payroll administrator: Ask them about any discrepancies between your salary slips and fund benefit statements.
  • Contact your principal officer: Ask them to confirm that contributions by and on behalf of you have been paid into the bank account of the retirement fund.
  • Contact your pension fund administrator: Confirm whether they have received your contributions.

3. Report the issue to the authorities

  • Complain with the regulator: Lodge a complaint with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) to which all retirement funds must report on non-payment of contributions. Non-payment of contributions is a criminal offence, and the principal officer is required to report it to the police.

4. Be persistent and proactive

  • Monitor progress: Regularly follow up with your employer, retirement fund and the FSCA to ensure your case is being addressed and that necessary action is taken against the employer by the fund and the FSCA. (The FSCA has a policy of publicly naming and shaming employers that are in arrear with fund contributions.)
  • Stay informed: Stay up to date with any changes in your rights or the pension regulations that might affect your case.
  • Network: Connect with other affected colleagues and employees to strengthen your collective bargaining power and share resources.
  • Notify your trade union: If you’re a member of a trade union, they can provide additional support and resources, so inform them as well.

While your case is being addressed, consider taking the following steps:

5. Get legal advice

  • Know your rights: Find out what your legal rights are and what potential remedies are available, including pursuing legal action against the employer.
  • Consult a lawyer: Consult a labour lawyer who specialises in retirement and employment law. Keep in mind that this can be costly. Legal action is a last resort if the dispute resolution procedures that are free of charge have been exhausted. Normally the fund needs to institute criminal and civil legal proceedings against an employer.

Unable to afford a lawyer?

Legal Aid South Africa offers free legal advice and presentation to individuals below a certain financial standing. To find out whether you qualify, have a look here.

6. Raise public awareness

  • Share your story: Consider sharing your story on social media or with traditional media like newspapers or news websites, (GroundUp), or industry media (Today’s Trustee) to raise awareness about the issue.

7. Consider alternative measures

  • Get financial advice: If your case is taking long to be resolved and you’re struggling to meet your immediate financial needs, get financial advice about your options.

It’s vital to document everything

Make sure you keep track of all interactions and documents throughout the process:

  • Keep a detailed record of all email and phone correspondence with your employer, pension fund, the FSCA and any other related parties.
  • Make copies of all relevant documents such as payslips, pension statements, and correspondence and keep these in a safe place.