71% of private sector employers offered pensions in 2019

pensionAlmost three-quarters (71%) of private sector employers made some form of pension provision for their employees in 2019, according to research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The report, EPP 2019, which was conducted by Kantar Public and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, found that this was an increase from 56% in 2017, and from 32% in 2013.

Excluding contributions to employees’ personal pensions, 62% of private sector employers provided a workplace scheme in 2019, whereas just 19% of employers offered one in 2013.

The findings also highlighted that almost all small, medium and large employers offered some form of workplace pension provision in 2019. Non-providers were predominantly micro employers, although 51% of micro employers did offer a scheme, and these employers had the most sizeable increase since 2017, from 35%.

The most commonly reported main reason for not providing a pension was that the business only had a director, with 45% of non-providers stating this.

The most commonly provided scheme type was National Employment Savings (NEST), with 45% offering this compared to 30% in 2017, and just 1% in 2013. Meanwhile, 6% provided occupational pension schemes, 6% offered a workplace stakeholder scheme, 5% provided group personal pensions (GPPs), 3% offered access to a master trust scheme other than NEST, and 13% provided contributions to personal pensions.

In addition, 57% of private sector employers had some form of workplace pension provision that was open to new members and attracted an employer contribution in 2019, compared to 41% in 2017 and 10% in 2013.

Two-fifths (39%) of employers stated that automatic enrolment had resulted in an increase in the total contributions they had to make, rising to 63% among those with a workplace scheme.

The most common form of communication from employers about workplace pensions was general information about automatic enrolment (34%). However, 30% had not communicated at all about workplace pensions, rising to 38% among micro employers, compared with only 2% of large employers and 3% of small and medium-sized businesses. For employers of all size, letters were the most common method of communicating (52%).

The report stated: “Since the introduction of the workplace pension reforms, the proportion of private sector employers who offer pension provision for their employees has been rising. It is important to bear in mind that non-providers accounted for a very small share of employment, such that overall, 94% of all employees worked for an employer offering a workplace pension scheme.”