Press release

Government to introduce further protection for savers under automatic enrolment

The Government will ensure that transitional arrangements are only used for workers that have access to defined benefits.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Government will ensure that transitional arrangements designed for companies with defined benefit or hybrid pension schemes are only used for workers that have access to defined benefits.

Current rules allow companies with defined benefit or hybrid schemes to defer automatically enrolling existing staff until 2017. This is because the funding requirements for these types of schemes mean employers cannot take advantage of phasing-in of contributions, as can employers using a defined contribution scheme.

The Government is acting to put beyond doubt its intention that people with access solely to a defined contribution pension do not have their automatic enrolment deferred, even if they are in a hybrid scheme.

An amendment to the Pensions Act 2008 will tighten the rules, ensuring that only employers offering defined benefits to a jobholder - whether in a defined benefit or hybrid scheme - will be able to defer automatic enrolment until 2017. Under the change, all eligible jobholders who do not have access to defined benefits must be automatically enrolled from their staging date.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb MP said:

Automatic enrolment is the most significant reform to pensions for a 100 years and will help up to 11 million people without a pension to start saving into one.

It’s vital that firms comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the law. I’m sending out a clear message that all workers should be allowed to save for their retirement as soon as possible.

With more and more of us living longer, starting early to build a decent pension pot is more important than ever. We’re taking the hassle out of saving in a pension.

The Government’s move comes ahead of a new wave of workers - in firms with 30,000-49,999 staff - being automatically enrolled into a company pension scheme for the first time in January 2013.

Notes for Editors:

  • A Written Ministerial Statement has been laid in Parliament today (19 December)
  • Regardless of the transition period, firms with defined benefit schemes must still automatically enrol new employees
  • The amendments to the Pensions Act 2008 will have retrospective effect to the date of the announcement
  • Any firm that issues a notice to an employee with a defined contribution pension to defer automatic enrolment will have to backdate employer contributions and give the employee the choice to pay back contributions if they would like.

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Published 19 December 2012