What are the rules for workplace pensions? Subscribers click here for your detailed guide to this topic.

  • Employers are required to enrol their employees into a qualifying workplace pension scheme.
  • The type of scheme can be the employer's own or the government's National Employment Savings Trust (NEST).
  • These regulations were introduced from 1 October 2012 for large employers and were rolled out to all employers by April 2018.

The amount of contributions to the employee's scheme under Auto-enrolment is made is subject to change by government and dependent on the levels of gross pay between a minimum and maximum earnings limit. 

Employer and employee have to pay a minimum contribution of salary, as follows:

  • From 6/4/2019: 8% (employer minimum 3%)
  • From 06/04/18 to 05/04/19: 5%.
  • To 05/04/18: 2%

Auto-enrolment provisions discourage opting out by employees, however, an employee may opt-out and back in again.

Start dates for employers:

The date on which employers were required to join depended on the number of employees:

Date No employees
1 Oct 2012 120,000 +
1 Nov 2012 50,000 +
1 Jan 2013 30,000 +
1 Feb 2013 20,000 +
1 March 2013 10,000 +
1 April 2013 6,000 +
1 May 2013 4,100 +
1 June 2013 4,000 +
1 July 2013 3,000 +
1 Aug 2013 2,000 +
1 Sept 2013 1,250 +
1 Oct 2013 800 +
1 Nov 2013 500+
List continues, see: all staging dates

There are special provisions as follows:

  • Small employees: those with less than 30 staff will have to join between June 2015 and 2017 depending on the last two characters of their PAYE reference number.
  • New employers (established after April 2012) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from May 2017 to February 2018.
  • Employers who chose to use Defined Benefit or Hybrid Schemes can delay their staging date until 30 September 2017.

External link

See Directgov: employers pension obligations


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