In support of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) vision of becoming an employer of choice, the University Retirement Fund (USRF) and Human Resources Division have implemented a new benefit counselling service, adhering to the requirements of the new Default Regulations of the Pension Funds Amendment Act, 1956, which came into effect on 1 March 2019.
The Default Regulations were the outcome of extensive consultative processes between the National Treasury and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, and are aimed at ensuring that members of retirement funds make informed decisions about their funds on retirement or at resignation.
“According to the new regulation an employee needs to be counselled before any retirement fund money is paid out, so you cannot get your money without being counselled. Employees need to sign documents stating that they have been counselled before their retirement fund claim can be processed,” says Peter Kirsten, a Senior Human Resources Officer in the Remuneration and Benefits division.
To ensure that SU staff members are provided with the correct information regarding their retirement funds, USRF and the Human Resources Division have gone the extra mile and contracted Sanlam as a service provider, to consult with employees who are leaving service, thinking of leaving service, or have general retirement fund queries.
Sergio Bissolati is the current benefit counsellor for SU employees.
The consultation is a face-to-face interaction with a skilled Benefit Counsellor, as opposed to an email and telephonic communication that was conducted in the past.
“What we are doing at SU is not initiated by the employee, we do it proactively. As soon as HR receives a query from an employee or we are notified about someone leaving service, we inform the counsellor to set up a meeting with the employee. In future we would also like for the Benefit Counsellor to meet with the employee on their first day of service to explain everything regarding the USRF and employee benefits,” says Peter.
“I feel that this is an excellent initiative by the USRF and the Human Resources Division. The current default regulations only requires counselling when you leave service and that could be a written consent from the employee to the employer. However, we decided to go the extra mile by making the service a face-to-face experience and thereby ensuring that members are informed and able to make the right decision regarding their retirement when it matters most,” adds Peter.
Sergio Bissolati from Sanlam is on campus twice a week – on Wednesdays and Thursdays – to assist employees at the main Stellenbosch campus with advice on their retirement. Staff members based at different campuses are advised to email sun-e-HR@sun.ac.za or call 021 808 2753 to set up an appointment with the counsellor.
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