Opt out rules upset Barbon’s auto-enrolment plan

EXCLUSIVE: Barbon Insurance will postpone the date on which it automatically enrols staff into its pension scheme in order to comply with the Pensions Act 2008 on opting out.

The employer’s staging date is 1 November 2013 and it was hoping to use its benefits window between August to September in order to promote auto-enrolment to its employees.

However, because the Barbon pays its employees on Christmas Eve, and under the legislation employers must give employees 30 days to opt-out, the organisation has had to use the option to postpone the date it auto-enrols staff to January 2014.

Sarah Minter (pictured), a reward manager at Barbon Insurance, said: “The rules regarding the days you need to give employees a chance to opt-out of auto-enrolment are completely impractical.”

A spokesperson for The Pensions Regulator said: “Postponement was specifically designed to allow employers some flexibility to automatically enrol their workforce at a time that suited their own payroll process.”

The insurer is to auto-enroll its employees into its existing pension plan to comply with auto-enrolment legislation.

The employer’s group-personal pension (GPP) scheme, provided by Scottish Widows, has four tiers based on length of service:

  • Employees who contribute 3% of their annual salary at one year’s of service are matched by the employer.
  • Employees who contribute 3% at two year’s of service receive 4% from the insurer.
  • At three years, employees are given 5% from the employer.
  • Employees who contribute 3% at four years of service are given a 6% contribution from Barbon.

The insurer is reducing its minimum employee contribution level to 1% to encourage employees to voluntarily join up to the pension scheme ahead of auto-enrolment.

Employees will receive a 2% contribution from the insurer. The same minimum level of contribution the organisation will be using for auto-enrolment.

Minter said that Barbon Insurance was happy to use just one pension scheme for auto-enrolment. Minter explained: “All of our employees are salaried, so they don’t move between pension contribution bands often.

“Therefore, people are better off in a GPP scheme rather than one offered by Nest.”

Minter explained 475 out of 950 Barbon employees will be auto-enrolled and that the employer has budgeted for a 100% auto-enrolment take up rate.

Minter added: “If we get 90% of those employees signed-up we will be pleased, but there are some people who will just never join a pension scheme and will leave.”


The employer intendeds to communicate the auto-enrolment changes through a number of channels.

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“We will communicate auto-enrolment to our employees through email, a five page auto-enrolment booklet, pension presentations and a frequently asked question (FAQ) guide,” Minter explained. “We are not going to try to blind them with science and pages and pages of information.”

She added: “I hope we have a low opt-out rate of 10% or less, but only time will tell.”