The workplace pension is in the latter stages of being phased in by the government, with over eight million workers already enrolled. The aim is to make saving for retirement much easier, primarily because employees are automatically registered into the scheme.
Because of this, there’s not much you need to do as an employee. However, it is useful to know certain aspects of the workplace pension in case any future disputes arise or you wish to opt out.
Legally speaking, every employer in the UK must enrol their staff onto the workplace pension scheme if they meet the following criteria:
- Not in a pension scheme already.
- Aged between 22 and their State Pension age.
- Earn more than £10,000 annually.
- Work in the UK.
Even if you don’t fulfil these requirements, it’s still possible to enrol in some situations. Consult your boss about this.
As enrolment into the workplace scheme is automatic, the onus is on employees to opt out if they so choose. For the majority, staying enrolled is usually the best and easiest course of action, although there are times when it makes financial sense to leave.
For example, youngsters on a low-wage may not benefit from making very small contributions into a retirement kitty they won’t access for decades. Likewise, for those in debt, using every bit of your salary to pay back monies owed should be a priority.
If you’ve only been enrolled for under a month and choose to opt out, you’re entitled to a refund of any contributions already put in. Likewise, you can also re-join the scheme at a later date as long as you’re still eligible.
Minimum contributions into your pension pot are shared by both you and your employer. At the present time, this is set at 1% of your wage by each party. However, the government has issued plans to increase this to 2% (employer) and 3% (employee) on 6 April 2018. These rates are set to rise again a year later to 3% and 5% respectively.
To find out your minimum entitlement once enrolled, use the Employer Contribution Calculator tool on the Pensions Regulator website.
If you fit the criteria for a workplace pension, your boss is required to enrol you by law. They cannot unfairly dismiss or discriminate against you for staying in, neither can they coerce you into opting out. Likewise, they cannot close your current scheme without automatically enrolling you into another.
They must also write to you, confirming the following details:
- the date they’ve added you to the pension scheme.
- the type of pension scheme and who runs it.
- how much they will contribute and how much you’ll have to pay in.
- how you can leave the scheme if you want to.
If you’re unsure about your particular workplace pension scheme, or if any disputes arise because of it, be sure to contact the Pensions Regulator or seek professional financial advice.
If you’ve been working for a while and in different jobs, you may have pension pots you’ve forgotten about.