New pension obligations, commonly known as ‘auto-enrolment’, are also coming into effect on a phased basis from 1 October 2012, initially for the largest employers with 120,000 or more employees. Small and medium sized employers will follow over the next six years.
Under auto-enrolment, employers will have to auto-enroll eligible employees, and make mandatory employer contributions, into a qualifying workplace pension scheme. From their staging date, employers must auto-enroll eligible employees into a pension scheme when they reach the income tax threshold but contributions will kick in only from the employee threshold for national insurance contributions.
Employers will be able to operate a three-month postponement window for all employees (i.e. newly eligible existing employees and new employees), so that employees on short-term contracts do not need to be auto-enrolled in a pension scheme, although they will be able to opt in voluntarily during the postponement period.