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An employer’s guide to Employer Self-Service (ESS)

Using this guide

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What is Employer Self Service (ESS)

Employer Self Service (ESS) is free to use and provides employers with direct access to members pension records held on our system (Altair) using a secure web connection.

You will have to register to use ESS. All users need to be on our authorised contacts list and can be confirmed using our employer contact form.

ESS provides you with the ability to:

  • Create new starters
  • Update changes in members hours
  • Update changes in members details (name, pay reference and address)
  • Perform individual member estimates (to obtain redundancy strain costs for example)
  • Notify us of leavers, retirements and opt outs

This guide has been designed to help you step by step from registration to the notification of a leaver.

Download the Employer’s Guide to ESS

There are also some videos to help you through each process.

Signing up and logging in to ESS

In order to use altair Employer Services you must register to use ESS.

  • Log in, then click the ‘Sign up’ link to request an activation key.

ESS activation key screen

Sign up screen

  • Enter your contact details and the employer to which you require access – Please ignore the dropdown list for Scheme Name as Altair will not accept your request if both the Employer and Scheme Name fields are completed.
  • Submit your request by clicking the ‘Submit’ button.

When your registration request is authorised by Peninsula Pensions, an activation key will be generated and sent to you by email.

When you have received your activation key you must activate your account.

  • Click the ‘complete your registration’ link on the Employer Services ‘Login’ page.

activation key screen

activate your account screen

  • Enter your contact details you provided when signing up, along with your activation key and then click the ‘Continue’ button.

This will take you to another screen to set your security questions.

registration screen

  • Choose a Username and password, and security response(s) if requested – please note that passwords and security responses are case sensitive
  • Click the ‘Register’ button.

Your ESS account is now activated and you can log in to your employee records. If you need access to multiple employers, you will need to contact the Employer and Communications Team who will add them to your profile once activated.

Logging into ESS and help with resetting your password

Once you have successfully registered, you can log in to the application.

login screen

  • Enter your Username and password in the ‘Already Registered? Log In’ box and click on ‘Log In’.

security question screen

  • If requested, enter your security responses and click the ‘Continue’ button.

You will have now successfully logged in to the Employer Services website and the ‘Member Search’ page is displayed.

member search screen

How to reset your password

If you forget your Employer Services password you can request a temporary password, which you can then reset.

  • Click on the ‘Forgotten your password?’ link on the Login page.

forgotten password link

  • Enter your username and email address to request a temporary password and click the ‘Submit’ button.

reset password screen

  • You will receive your temporary password by email. This can only be used once so after logging in with your temporary password, you will be prompted to create a ‘permanent’ password.

How to reset your security responses

If you forget one or more of your security responses, you can create a temporary one.

  • During the login process, when prompted for your security response click on ‘Forgotten your response?’

forgotten security question link

reset your security question screen

  • Enter your username and email address to request a temporary security response and click the ‘Submit’ button.
  • You will receive your temporary security response by email. This can only be used once so after logging in with your temporary security response, you will be prompted to create a ‘permanent’ security response.

What to do if you have an unsuccessful login attempt

If you have used incorrect login details an ‘Authentication Failed’ message is displayed.

unsuccessful log in message

After several consecutive unsuccessful login attempts, your login will be disabled. If this happens, you will be prompted to request a temporary password.

temporary password screen

  • Enter your username and the email address that you originally used to create your log in and click the ‘Submit’ button.
  • Peninsula Pensions will be notified of your request and once your request is authorised, you will receive an email containing your temporary password.
  • Enter the temporary password to gain access.
  • Once you have successfully logged in, you will then be prompted to create a ‘permanent’ password.

reset password screen

 

Finding your way around ESS

The altair Employer Services website is designed for ease of use and is fully compatible with two of the most commonly used internet browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

Navigation bar

The navigation bar is present on each page of the Employer Services website but will change depending on the page, the selected member’s status of employment and the information available about them.

Member search page

You can search for individual members by entering information about them, such as their National Insurance number, surname, status, scheme name, and employer.

You can perform a ‘wildcard’ search by using the % key. For example, to search for members with surnames beginning with A, enter A% in the ‘Surname’ box and select ‘Search’.

A screenshot of the member search page

  • The results of your search are displayed below the selection boxes, with details for each member shown. If you select a member, and they only have one employment, the Personal Details page is displayed.
  • If the member that you select has more than one employment, the Employment List page is displayed.
  • The employment list includes the member’s name, status, identification fields, scheme name, and job title, to assist you in selecting the correct employment.
  • The page will display a message if the member has employments to which you do not have access.

additional member employments message

  • You can navigate back to the employment list page at any time, without the need to logout and then login again.

Member information pages

The first page to be displayed following the selection of a member is the Personal Details page.

member personal details screen

You can use the Navigation bar to move around a member’s record and display different information. For example:

  • Membership Details
  • Transfer Details
  • Financial Details
  • AVCs and Added Years Details
  • Nominees / Beneficiaries
  • Pension Details
  • P60 History
  • Pensioner Payslip History
  • Payslip Details
  • Auto Enrolment
  • Works Address

Please note that the available information will vary, depending on the member’s employment status, employment and the information we have recorded for them in altair.

New starter creation

Through ESS, you can create new records for your employees and as you have direct access, the record will be created immediately.

You will not be able to update information if a member has additional records to which you do not have access, for example; with another employer or the employment has ceased.

  • From the menu, select ‘New Starter Creation’

new starter selection screen

  • Enter the National Insurance number (in CAPITALS) and click on the ‘Submit’ button.

If there is no other record found with the National Insurance number specified, the New Starter Creation screen is displayed:

new starter creation screen

This screen enables you to input information about the new starter.

If an existing record is found with the same National Insurance number and you are able to access, the screen below will appear which provides you with an option to create a new employment – simply click the ‘Create Employment’ button – this will take you to the ‘New Starter Creation’ screen:

create new employment screen

If an existing member is found with the same National Insurance number but you do not have access, you must first verify the member’s basic details as below:

verify members details screen

On successful completion of this screen, you are presented with the standard New Starter screen. You cannot change member level data using this screen.

new starter confirmation screen

Complete all the relevant fields shown on the screens and then click the ‘Save’ button to create the members record. All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory.

These tables provide you with a guide to which fields are mandatory and the expected format of the data.

Field Name Mandatory/Optional Description
NI Number Mandatory Enter using capitals
Title Mandatory Select from dropdown list
Surname Mandatory Enter using capitals
Forenames Mandatory Enter using capitals
Sex Mandatory Select from dropdown list
Date of Birth Mandatory Enter in the format DD/MM/YYYY
Date of Birth verified Optional Click radio button if Date of Birth verified
Partnership Status Optional Select from dropdown list
Previous Surname Optional Enter using capitals
Spouse Initials Optional Enter using capitals
Spouse Date of Birth Optional Enter in the format DD/MM/YYYY
Date of Marriage Optional Enter in the format DD/MM/YYYY
Supn Ref Optional Plymouth City Council only – use for extended part of Payroll Ref. for example: 40012468
Payroll Ref Mandatory Maximum 12 characters. For example: 50012345
Scheme Mandatory Select from dropdown list. Choose either: ‘LGPS – DCC FUND’ or ‘SOMERSET COUNTY FUND’
Employer Mandatory Select from dropdown list
Date Joined Fund Mandatory Enter in the format: DD/MM/YYYY
Employment Type Mandatory Select from dropdown list. Choose either: ‘Officer’ or ‘Manual Worker’.

 

Field Name Mandatory/Optional Description
Pay on Entry Mandatory Enter in the format NNNNN.NN

For all DCC Fund employees this will be the Full-Time salary (spinal point).

For SCC Fund employees working term-time, this will be the full-time salary reduced for the number of weeks worked per annum.

Contribution Rate Mandatory Enter in the format N.NN
Part-Time Mandatory Leave blank if member is full-time, or select Yes-Part Time or Casual-Part Time (as appropriate)
Hours – Enter either the percentage of full-time equivalent hours.

For example: Member working 18.50 hours out of 37 hours per week over 52 weeks a year
Percentage = 18.50 ÷ 37 x 100 = 50.00000 (to 5 decimal places)

Term-time employees:

For Devon Fund employees working term-time, the percentage provided must be for the adjusted (reduced) hours based on the number of weeks worked per annum.

For Somerset Fund employees working term enter the normal hours worked each week, no adjustment should be made for the number of weeks worked each year, this is reflected in the adjusted FTE salary.

Part-Time Hours Optional Please use the Percentage field
Full Time Hours Optional Please use the Percentage field
Percentage Mandatory Enter in the format NN.NNNNN
Address Mandatory Enter in capitals with no commas
Postcode Mandatory Enter in capitals

 

Updating members records

Through ESS, you can submit information and make amendments to the records for your current employees:

  • General amendments (for example, name, address and marital status)
  • Part-time hours

You have direct access to the member records so the changes will be actioned immediately.

You will not be able to update information if a member has additional records to which you do not have access, for example; with another employer or the employment has ceased.

General amendments

The General Amendments screen enables you to update the following information:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Marital status
  • Date of marriage
  • Spouse date of birth
  • Payroll Reference
  • Home Address (Please use UPPERCASE and ensure there are no commas)
  • Search for your member to display the member details screen
  • Select ‘Member Update’ from the menu, then ‘General Amendments’

selecting general member updates option

The following screen will be displayed:

member general information update screen

  • Input your amendment into the relevant field
  • Click ‘Save Changes’ to submit the amendment.

Part-time hours

The ‘Member PT Hours Update’ option enables you make one or more part-time hour amendments. You are only able to submit new changes in hours – if changes need to be made to historical information, this will need to be done by Peninsula Pensions.

  • Search for your member to display the member details screen

selecting the option for a part time hours update

  • Select ‘Member Update’ from the menu, then ‘Member PT Hours Update’

part time hours update screen

  • Please enter either the Full-Time Equivalent percentage of hours worked.

For example:
Remember working 18.50 hours out of 37 hours per week over 52 weeks a year
Percentage = 18.50 ÷ 37 x 100 = 50.00000 (to 5 decimal places)

If a member changes from part-time to full-time, you only need to input the date of change – leave the percentage field blank.

  • Click ‘Save Changes’ to submit the hour change.

Term-time employees

Somerset Fund term-time employees – the pay is reduced according to the total number of weeks worked each year not the hours so just state the actual full-time equivalent percentage as per the example above.

Devon Fund term-time employees – the hours are adjusted not the pensionable pay so the term-time adjustment should be done to the hours – this can be done in 2 ways:

  1. Using a week’s factor: actual weekly hours ÷ 37.00 x 43.145 (wks. factor) ÷ 52.143 (FTE annual hours). (18.50 ÷ 37.00 x 43.145 ÷ 52.143 x 100 = 41.3718%), or
  2. Using annual hours: actual weekly hours x weeks worked: 20 hpw x 40 wks = 800 total actual hours pa. Total actual hours pa ÷ full-time equivalent annual hours: 800 ÷ 1700 x 100 = 48.2353%

If you use SIMS Payroll software, the percentage you need is stated in the ‘Pay factor’ field.

 

Performing benefit calculations

Employer Services can provide access to benefit calculations which enables you to perform full benefit quotations in altair and generate calculation documents, which is useful if you need to obtain estimated benefits and details of any strain payments urgently. You cannot however perform ‘actual’ calculations that update members’ information and finalise pension benefits.

Any quotations you process will not be visible to the member via their Member Self Service portal.

There are two points to note for any estimates you do:

  • Transfers in – the member may be in the process of transferring in benefits from a previous provider and if not completed, the details will not necessarily be visible to you.

If the member has previous Local Government service that they are considering transferring, it may not yet be present on their record, so checking their starter details may help to establish this.

If we have received a Transfer quotation from a previous non-Local Government pension provider and the calculation is ongoing, you can view the service/pension credit calculation via Documentation, View Member Documents.

  • Strain Costs – Any transfers in of service or amalgamation of records will impact on the strain cost payable for redundancy/efficiency/flexible retirement – the figures produced via the estimate will provide an indication of the strain cost which is subject to change.

Performing an estimate

  • Use Member Search to select the relevant member record
  • Check the Personal Details and any Membership Details to ensure the member hours and service are correct and amend accordingly.
  • Select ‘Benefit Calculation’ from the Menu

selecting the benefit calculation option

benefit options screen

  • Complete the onscreen fields as follows: Type of Calculation = Quotation
  • Date of Event = Estimated leaving date
  • Select the reason for leaving from the dropdown list; Redundancy/Efficiency for example

For Flexible Retirement, select Pension from the dropdown list – future screens will allow you to select this as a reason for leaving.

You will only be able to process redundancy, efficiency and flexible retirement estimates for employees aged 55 or over. Members under age 55 do not have the entitlement to immediate payment of pension benefits.

  • Click ‘Proceed’ to take you the next stage for the calculation.

The example we will go through is for a redundancy estimate so if you are doing an ill health or flexible retirement quotation, the screens you see may be different.

benefit options - benefit selection screen

  • Choose Redundancy from the dropdown list.

The next screen requires you to enter the actual pensionable pay for the post 2014 benefits (CARE Pension)

CARE stands for Career Average Revalued Earnings which is simply a member’s actual pensionable pay for the period – there is no longer a need to uprate the figures provided to a full-time equivalent.

Non-contractual overtime and additional hours are deemed as pensionable under the 2014 LGPS scheme so can be included in the figures.

CARE Pay screen

  • Enter the member’s actual pensionable pay for the period specified in the MAIN fields – the figures input on this screen will be the pensionable pay to project forward for calculation of the post 2014 pension benefits (CARE Pension)
    • If the member is in the 50/50 scheme, only input figures into the fields for 50/50 not the MAIN.
    • If the member has been in the 50/50 scheme for part of the year and the dates relate to the period shown on the screen, you will need to confirm totals in both 50/50 and MAIN fields.
  • To note: 50/50 scheme is where a member pays half rate pension contributions to secure half pension benefits (accrual rate of 1/98th instead of 1/49th).
  • ‘Is Additional Pension Benefit to be awarded?’ – leave blank unless you are awarding the employee some extra pension at full cost to you. Please note that your pension discretions policy needs to allow this option.
  • Click ‘Proceed’

The next screen requires you to enter the full-time equivalent pensionable pay for the pre 2014 benefits (Final Salary Pension)

Any pension built up to 31 March 2014 has the protection of a final salary link to the date of leaving. The final pay used to calculate this part of a member’s benefits will be the pensionable pay earned over the last 365 days of membership uprated to a full-time equivalent (FTE).

For example, if a member left on 22 August 2019, the pensionable pay will need to be provided for the period 23 August 2018 to 22 August 2019.

Non-contractual overtime must not be included in these figures as it’s not deemed pensionable under the 2008 definition of pensionable pay.

benefit calculations screen

  • Enter the member’s Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) pensionable pay for the last 365 days in the Final Pay field – this field will automatically pull through the pensionable pay as stated on the latest annual return you provided so you will need to change it if not correct.

Benefit Option fields can be left blank as only used for actual calculations

How to calculate the full-time equivalent pay for period stated
Take the actual pay for the period and uprate to a full-time equivalent using the percentage of hours worked per week: £9,000 ÷ 50% = £18,000.00

Term-time employees:

For Devon Fund term-time employees – employees have their hours adjusted NOT their pensionable pay, so you need to use the adjusted hours when uprating the actual pay to a full-time equivalent.

For Somerset Fund term-time employees – employees have their pay reduced according to the total number of weeks worked each year, so you need to provide the adjusted actual pensionable pay, (plus any additional pensionable recurring pay), and then uprate to the full-time equivalent pay using the part-time hours.

For example: £8.83 (hourly rate) x 18 (hours per week) x 43.1281 (weeks factor) = £6854.78 (adjusted actual pay)
Then uprate to a full-time equivalent: £6854.78 x 37 (FTE Hours per week) ÷ 18 (hours per week) = £14090.38 = FTE adjusted pay).

  • Click ‘proceed’

benefit calculations - final results screen

retirement benefits screen

  • Tick the box ‘Generate Documents’ at the top of the screen – this will create the relevant documents and make them available to view and print.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click ‘Proceed’

The documents can now be selected and printed – just click on the document you wish to view.

member documents screen

The documents you will need to see and share with your employee (if applicable) are:

  • Strain Cost Sheets – provides the estimate of the strain cost payable by the employer.
  • Redundancy/Efficiency Summary – there is one cover sheet we use but the statement of the members benefits you will need is shown below
  • Estimated Conversion Figures – provides details of the conversion option the member will receive on retirement.

redundancy retirement estimate

Once the estimate has been produced, it remains on the members record but please be assured that they will be unable to view it via Member Self Service.

To view more documents, select Documentation then View Member Documents:

accessing member documents menu

 

Variance of screens for other estimates

Flexible retirement – As stated earlier in the guide, there is not an option for Flexible Retirement in the reason for leaving list. To process a flexible retirement quote, choose ‘Benefit Calculation’ from the menu.

  • Select ‘Pension’ as the reason for leaving
  • Complete the pensionable pay on the CARE Pay screen in the same manner as the previous example
  • Click the ‘Proceed’ button

The next screen gives you the option to select Flexible Retirement as an option.

Where to find flexible retirement on the drop down menu

  • Complete the Final Pay for the final salary pre-2014 pension benefits and select the relevant option depending on if any reductions are being waived then click the ‘Proceed’ Button.
  • You will then see the screen shown below – you can leave the options as they are (unless you are waiving reductions) and click the ‘Proceed’ button

Benefits options screen

The next screen asks you to generate the documents and then you can select and print the relevant documents.

Ill health estimate

To process an ill health estimate, choose ‘Benefit Calculation’ from the menu.

  • Select ‘Ill-health Retirement’ as the reason for leaving from the Benefit Calculation screen
  • Complete the pensionable pay on the CARE Pay screen
  • If you are processing a Tier 1 or Tier 2 estimate, you will also need to provide the Assumed Pensionable Pay to be used for the calculation of the enhancement (please see our Employers Guide to LGPS for help with the figure required).
  • Select the relevant tier of ill health benefits and click the ‘Proceed’ button:

Assumed pensionable pay screen

Retirement benefits screen

  • Complete the Final Pay for the final salary pre-2014 pension benefits
  • Select the relevant options for the ill health tier then click the ‘Proceed’ Button

The next screen asks you to generate the documents and then you can select and print the relevant documents.

Notification of a leaver

You must use ESS to notify us of any members leaving, opting-out and retiring from the Local Government Pension Scheme. As you have direct access, the leaver form is instantly attached to the member’s record and a task will be created for us to action.

Completing the leaver form

  • Through Member Search, find the record for the employment the member is leaving
  • Select ‘Documentation’ from the menu then ‘Generate Member Documents’

Member personal details screen

  • On the next screen, select ESLEAVERFM from the dropdown list and click ‘Submit’

Generate member documents screen

This will create a blank leaver form on the member’s record ready for you to edit and upload. It’s important that you create the form so that altair knows to expect it – simply uploading a file to ESS will not work in the same way.

View member documents screen

  • Click on the document and choose ‘Save as’ to save the document to your local drive/folder.

Important – You must not change the name of the document when saving it – altair will not accept the form if the document name has been changed.

  • Go to your local drive/folder where you have saved the form and open it
  • Complete all the relevant sections of the Leaver form and add your details to the Employers Authorisation section. Help with completion of the Leaver form.

Tip: You can add pages to the Leaver form in order to attach copies of signed forms (for example opt out elections, ill health certificates) – just save a copy of what you need to attach, then paste it on to page 3 of the Leaver form. We use Microsoft Snip and Sketch which is available in Windows Accessories

Snipping tool example

  • Once completed, save the form again to retain your changes while keeping the same document name
  • Please note: the document name ends with ‘]]’ so you will need to delete any numbers/letters Word may have added add to the end of the document name
  • Next, you need to upload the saved document to the member’s record
  • Select ‘Documentation’ from the menu then ‘Upload Word document’

View member documents screen showing search results

  • Browse to find the completed leaver form you saved
  • Click the ‘Upload’ button

Upload word document screen

The leaver form is now attached to the member’s record and available to view.

Work activities

If the leaver form is incorrect or missing any details, our team will create a work activity within ESS – this will generate a ‘task’ for you to action. Please deal with these as soon as you can because if they are not done, we are unable to process the leaver form which then results in a delay for the member.

When a work activity is created, all contacts registered for that employer will receive an email to confirm you have an outstanding activity:

Work activity notification

You will need to log back into ESS to see what needs to be done.

  • Select Work Activities – you will then be able to view a list of all the assigned work activities
  • Click on + to expand the message and the notes will indicate what is wrong with the form.

Assigned work activities screen

  • Upload a revised form making sure the queries have been resolved – please do not amend the leaver form you have previously uploaded.

Please note: ESS may add (1) or (2) to the end of the file name used for the revised leaver form as it’s a duplicate. Please delete the additional numbers and their brackets before saving.

The work activity messaging should not be used to reply to a query and provide a response expecting us to update accordingly. If one has been created, we expect you to make the requested amendments to the record, the leaver form and upload an amended form.

  • Go back into Work Activities and select New Entry

Assigned work activities screen showing notes

Update work activities screen

  • When a revised form has been uploaded to the members record, go back into the relevant work activity, select New Entry, confirm a new form has been uploaded and press Save – this will update the work activity to ‘In Progress’.
  • You will need to go back in and press ‘Save’ again to complete the activity.

Update work activity screen

If you don’t complete the work activity, it stays on our system as ‘In Progress’ so we will contact you via email to remind you that a work activity is outstanding.

We will continue to chase you until its completed so to save duplication of work for both of us, please complete the work activity when you have dealt with the request.

Help section

If you need help with any aspect of Employer Self Service (ESS), please contact the Employer and Communications Team.

Our Employer Liaison Officer can arrange training for you and your colleagues if required:

Mark Griffin, Employer Liaison Officer

Tel: 01392 385372

Email: mark.griffin@devon.gov.uk

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