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Overview

Interfacing, as we understand, is a catch-all term for the routine exchange of common data, in a pre-determined format, using Microsoft Excel. By using our interface service, an employer benefits in several ways:

  • Standardised data format.
  • Instant and secure delivery.
  • Quicker to complete when compared to individual notification via Employer Self-Service (ESS).
  • Less opportunity for human error, particularly if the data can be extracted straight from payroll.
  • Easy to check the accuracy and consistency of data at a glance.
  • One point of contact on our Systems Team and one method of providing data – the exception is Leaver Forms which are submitted via ESS.

In addition to the above, our Systems Team benefits too:

  • Regular and predictable flow of data.
  • Quick and efficient method of creating and maintaining member records.
  • Data generally of a higher quality and removes legibility issues.
  • Data is easy to archive and satisfy audit requirements.

The interfaces

There is one template for the seven interfaces we currently use to capture all the data we need to maintain the members records.

  • CARE pay (career average revalued earnings) – provides cumulative pay-to-date plus any assumed pensionable pay, for every employee currently on payroll. Data to include casuals, regardless of whether they have been paid in that month or not.
  • Starters – new entrants to the scheme in any given month. Interface to be used for bulk notification of starters instead of individual submission via ESS.
  • Current address – notify us of any employees who have recently changed their home address.
  • Hour changes – for part-time employees who have further changed their hours (including weeks factor changes for term-time employees) or for previously full-time members now going part-time.
  • Service breaks – confirmation of any strikes, parental leave, unpaid leave etc.
  • Name changes – notify us of any employees who have recently changed their name.
  • Pay reference changes – notify us of a change in pay references.  

If you choose to use the interfaces, we would expect them to be completed and provided on a monthly basis.

All interfaces should be sent to the following mailbox pensionsinterfaces-mailbox@devon.gov.uk.

As you will see from the sections that follow, we must insist that interface contents adhere to a strict criteria.

This is because we must complete several stages between receipt of an interface and a successful upload and record update.

If the data isn’t formatted correctly (for example, an unrecognised column heading), the update process will fail and we cannot proceed until the error is identified.

Nil returns

When you commit to monthly interfacing, you will be responsible for sending data to us on a monthly basis without fail.

In the event that you have no data to submit in a given month, you should send an email to pensionsinterfaces-mailbox@devon.gov.uk clearly stating that the month’s submission is a nil return to ensure that a data submission isn’t inadvertently overlooked.

Completing an interface

When completing the interfaces, please follow these instructions:

  1. Alphanumeric content should be presented in capital letters wherever possible. We would prefer the cell formatting within Excel to be Text, while dates should adhere to Date/Short Date format (for example, 01/01/2001).
  2. Formatting salaries and/or numbers as Number/Currency/Percentage is not necessary as we prefer them in Text, particularly when leading zeroes are involved.
  3. Special characters are not required so entries in a salary field do not require a £ prefix and percentages do not require ‘%’ as long as five decimal places have been used.
  4. Field headings in red text can be safely ignored as these are for internal use only.
  5. Employees with multiple employments should have each one represented separately with one line per employment.

All interfaces share some common data and details need to be provided as follows:

  • NI Number – nine characters in length, adhering to the format XX000000X. Unique to a given employee and the primary identifier used within Peninsula Pensions.
  • Surname/Forenames – employees full name in capital letters and long-form where possible (no initials).
  • Job reference (optional field) – while not unique, used in correlation with an employee number (payroll number) it ensures that the correct record is updated which is particularly important if the employee has multiple employments. If you use this field (strongly advised), you must inform us whenever the employment or number changes.
  • Payroll number – a unique identifier for each employee. No set format.
  • Scheme – a three-digit number, indicating which pension fund the employee contributes to:
    • 001 Devon County Council
    • 004 Somerset County Council
    • 601 Police Officers (new scheme)
    • 801 Firefighters (new scheme)
  • Employer number – a unique five-digit number, assigned to every employer contributing to the pension fund(s). Please contact us if you require confirmation of your number.

Member specific data isn’t present on every interface but when required, should be provided using the following format:

  • Title – Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/Dr
  • Sex – Male/Female
  • DOB (Date of Birth) – Format as 01/01/2001.
  • Address Line/Post Code – presented contiguously in sequence please so try to avoid data in Address Line 1, empty Address Line 2, data in Address Line 3. Do not include punctuation marks (esp. hyphens and commas) and abbreviations (for example, FFF – First Floor Flat). Proper UK postcode where appropriate.
  • Job title (optional field). A brief description of the employment in question.

CARE interface

The CARE interface is a rolling update of pensionable pay plus any assumed pensionable pay, for every employee who contributes to the pension scheme.

In addition to active employees (including casuals), it should also include employees who have left the scheme or employment partway through that month – though they can be removed from the following month’s data.

  • LGPSMAIN From Date – 1 April of that financial year, or if an employment/contribution commences during the year, the employment/contribution start date.
  • LGPSMAIN To Date – the last day of the month for that pay period (such as 31/10/2018 for October’s interface), or the date of leaving if the employment ceased or stopped contributing to the scheme.
  • LGPSMAIN Pay – the pensionable pay received by the employee on this employment to date. Please note that the figures are cumulative; the interface is not a record of how much is paid in a given month.

The above also applies to the 50/50 entries, with the exception being an employee who switches to 50/50 part way through a year. In this case, all columns should be completed but the ‘50/50 From Date’ will be the start of the month immediately following the final monthly pay period where the employee contributed fully (MAIN).

Assumed Pensionable Pay (APP)

APP is used when a member moves to reduced or no contractual pay as a result of sickness or injury.

It also applies during relevant paid child-related leave (ordinary maternity, paternity or adoption leave, paid shared parental leave and any paid additional maternity or adoption leave) or whilst a member is on reserve forces service leave.

In these circumstances, the amount added to the cumulative pensionable pay should be the APP and not the actual pensionable pay received (if any). This ensures that the member is not adversely affected by the reduction in pay.

Further guidance on APP.

Starter interface

New entrants to the pension scheme. Generally used for newly appointed employees but also for those opting-in to the pension scheme or commencing an additional employment.

  • Part-Time Ind – Part-time indicator, can be Y for Yes (part-time), C for Casual or left blank if the member is full-time.
  • Cont Rate – employee contribution rate, as per published contribution bands (between 5.5% and 12.5%). If a member is contributing at a reduced 50/50 rate, the contribution rate should be adjusted accordingly.
  • Date Joined Fund, Date Joined Employer, Employer Start Date, Date Com Pen Serv, Date Act/Rem Applicable, Date Pen/Rem Applicable – Contrary to the descriptions, every one of these dates should be the date of entry to the pension scheme on this employment.
  • Actual Rem/Pens Rem – The full-time equivalent salary (where full-time is equivalent to 37 hrs per week, 52 weeks per year) should be entered in both cells. In other words, this is the salary scale point/grade of the employee and not their actual pay. Somerset employers: see note below.
  • Part-Time Hours – A percentage of whole-time (37 hrs per week), accurate to five decimal places (e.g. 18.50 hours per week would be presented as 50.00000). Should be left empty if the employee is full-time or casual.

You should also take weeks factor into account if the employment is affected by school term-time hours. Somerset employers: see note below.

Somerset employers: hours worked – A percentage of whole-time (37 hrs per week), expressed to five decimal places (for example, an employment of 18.50 hours per week would be presented as 50.00000). No adjustment should be made for the number of weeks worked each year.

Somerset employers: FTE salaries – Term-time employments should have their FTE adjusted/reduced according to the total number of weeks worked each year.

For example: Actual basic annual salary (adjusted to take into account the number of weeks worked each year), plus any additional pensionable recurring pay, multiplied by the basic hours worked (37), divided by actual hours worked each week.

Hour change interface

Used to inform us every time an employee changes their hours from part-time to full-time, vice versa, or anything and everything in between!

Changes from contracted hours to casual employment should be included, but casual hours notifications are not required until the end of year as part of the annual return process.

Multiple hour changes for the same employee/employment may be recorded on the interface – particularly useful if you suspect a record is out of date and may be missing a few changes.

The data requirements for this interface have been covered earlier in this guide.

Service breaks interface

Used to inform us of employees who had a period of unpaid leave and have not planned to cover the deficit via Additional Pension Contributions (APC).

If an employee has elected to purchase an APC, they should not be included in this interface.

Please do not state future dates on this interface as it is a confirmation of past events only.

  • Break From – The first day of unpaid service. Note that, particularly with parental leave, this date may well be different/later than the first day of actual absence.
  • Break To – The final day of unpaid service.
  • Reason – this is the reason for unpaid leave and should be one capital letter, using the following key:
    • S = Strike
    • M = Parental Leave (previously Maternity Leave)
    • A = Leave of Absence (authorised)
    • E = Education Break
    • P = Paid Back (only applicable to pre-2014 LGPS)
    • U = Unauthorised Absence
  • Part Day – A simple Yes/No answer, for the occasion where the unpaid absence does not cover the entire working day. If no entry is made in this column, we will default to No.

Systems Team interaction

Assuming the interfaces are completed as outlined above, the process of updating records should be relatively smooth and seamless.

As previously mentioned however, the process does rely upon data being formatted correctly and on rare occasions we have had to return data to you for further attention.

Once an interface has been uploaded to the member records, there are often error lists to work through.

The errors can range over several categories; many will be self-apparent and quickly sorted out by the Systems Team, but others will require clarification from you.

We will contact you via email and request a turn-around time of two, after which a chaser email will be sent. If no reply or resolution after another month passes, the Employer and Communications Team will get involved.

If you have any queries regarding the completion of the Excel interface templates, please email our shared mailbox at pensionsinterfaces-mailbox@devon.gov.uk.

The pensions interfaces mailbox is monitored throughout the working day, so may be used as a method of contacting the Systems Team with any general queries or questions about interfacing.

If you prefer to contact the Systems Team member who looks after your data, please use their contact details below:

Alternatively, you can call 01392 383000 and ask for the person by name.

Please note that the team should only be contacted specifically regarding the annual return or interface process/contents; general queries should continue to be raised through existing established channels.

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