Workplace pensions

2. Joining a workplace pension

By 2018 all employers must provide a workplace pension scheme. This is called ‘automatic enrolment’.

Your employer must automatically enrol you into a pension scheme and make contributions to your pension if all of the following apply:

Use the staging date calculator to check when you could be enrolled. (Your employer can delay the date they enrol you in certain circumstances.) The calculator is for employers but also works for employees.

When your employer doesn’t have to automatically enrol you

Your employer usually doesn’t have to automatically enrol you if you don’t meet the previous criteria or if any of the following apply:

  • you’ve already given notice to your employer that you’re leaving your job, or they’ve given you notice
  • you have evidence of your lifetime allowance protection (for example, a certificate from HMRC)
  • you’ve already taken a pension arranged through your employer
  • you get a one-off payment from a workplace pension scheme that’s closed (a ‘winding up lump sum’), and then leave and rejoin the same job within 12 months of getting the payment
  • more than 12 months before your staging date, you left (‘opted out’) of a pension arranged through your employer
  • you’re from another EU member state and are in a EU cross-border pension scheme
  • you’re in a limited liability partnership
  • you’re a director without an employment contract and employ at least one other person in your company

You can usually still join their pension if you want to. Your employer can’t refuse.

If your income is low

Your employer doesn’t have to contribute to your pension if you earn less than:

  • £490 per month
  • £113 per week
  • £452 per 4 weeks

What happens when you’re automatically enrolled

Your employer must write to you when you’ve been automatically enrolled into their workplace pension scheme. They must tell you:

  • the date they added you to the pension scheme
  • the type of pension scheme and who runs it
  • how much they’ll contribute and how much you’ll have to pay in
  • how to leave the scheme, if you want to
  • how tax relief applies to you

Delaying your enrolment date

Your employer can delay the date they must enrol you into a pension scheme by up to 3 months.

In some cases they may be able to delay longer if they’ve chosen either:

Your employer must:

  • tell you about the delay in writing
  • let you join in the meantime if you ask to

What your employer can’t do

Your employer can’t:

  • unfairly dismiss or discriminate against you for being in a workplace pension scheme
  • encourage or force you to opt out