They act separately from the employer for the benefit of scheme members and their powers are written in the trust deed and the scheme's rules.
A trustee must be 18 or over and can be:
Trustees are generally appointed in line with the trust deed, by the employer or existing trustees. Most schemes must have one or more trustees nominated by the members.
Once appointed, trustees can be removed by other trustees (for a member-nominated trustee or member-nominated director the law says that all the other trustees must agree), the Pensions Regulator (formerly known as the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority - Opra), or a court in line with the Trustee Act 1925.
They are removed in line with the trust deed which covers the trustee resigning, dying, retiring or being removed, or if the period of office for a member-nominated trustee or member-nominated director ends.
For most types of schemes, trustees have a legal duty to:
The Pensions Act 2004 requires trustees to have knowledge and understanding of the law relating to pensions and trusts, and in particular their own scheme. The Act also contains provisions changing the proportion of member nominated trustees from one-third to a half; we have produced a useful leaflet which explains this process.