Why plumbing employees should welcome new pension plans, by Robert Burgon, SNIPEF chief executive and pensions manager for Plumbing Pensions.

The other launch is designed to help to change lifestyles in retirement.

No one can have missed the press and TV advertising over the last few days announcing a revolution in workplace pension arrangements for UK employees. Starting now, and being phased in over the next few years by size of company, every employer is being required to automatically enrol most employees into a workplace pension arrangement. Stars from TV programmes such as Dragons' Den and The Apprentice appear in the adverts, proclaiming that "They are In".

The UK plumbing and heating industry has operated auto-enrolment arrangements into the Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme for almost 40 years, so this concept is hardly new. Some 37,000 current and former employees of firms in the industry (not just plumbers) already have benefits in the £1.3 billion scheme. There are other industries, including other parts of construction, where the level of pensions participation and, indeed, the level of expected benefits, is much lower than in plumbing. This means that many of the scheme's pensioners currently enjoy a standard of living which is considerably higher than some who have retired from a career in other construction occupations.

Auto enrolment is the government's attempt to get far more employees (and their employers) into the practice of contributing to workplace pensions. The message is clear - none of us can expect to be able to rely on a state pension in retirement.

Although the plumbing and mechanical services industry has had access to good workplace pension arrangements for decades, this does not mean that every employee is covered. There are many firms who currently have no pension arrangements, or who only include some of their staff.

The Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme meets the requirements of the new auto enrolment regime in full and is currently working hard to spread the message that those in membership of the Scheme are already 'in', and those who are not would be made most welcome.

Robert Burgon is chief executive of the Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers' Federation (SNIPEF), and pensions manager for Plumbing Pensions.