8% opt out for auto-enrolment at Dairy Crest

EXCLUSIVE: Dairy Crest has seen 8% of employees who were auto-enrolled in April opt out of its pension scheme.

Around 60% (2,589) of employees have been auto-enrolled into a new compliant section of the stakeholder scheme, while 208 have opted out.

Simon Cumpsty, head of employee relations and reward at Dairy Crest, said: “We were working on an assumption of 10% so that’s not far.

“Particularly with the weekly-paid staff, the deduction is not being missed. With the monthly-paid staff, we immediately had more employees contacting our pension provider to opt out because it was more noticeable.”

The remaining 40% of the dairy food organisation’s 5,000 staff were already in the defined contribution (DC) pension scheme, which is provided by Zurich. The scheme matches employee contributions at 1:1.25, up to a maximum of 10%. For example, a minimum contribution of 3% would be matched at 3.75%, while an 8% contribution would be matched at 10%.

The new section of the scheme will match 1% employee contribution at 1%, which is the minimum required by the auto-enrolment legislation.

Dairy Crest moved its staging date of 1 May 2013 back to April so that it coincided with the start of the financial year.

The staging took place across two payrolls, with weekly-paid staff auto-enrolled on 11 April and monthly-paid staff auto-enrolled on 25 April.

Communications began in October 2012, to overlap with the first large employers being auto-enrolled.

In early 2013, the organisation communicated with its non-pension members even further, by offering them the opportunity to join the original stakeholder pension. Fifty employees join the scheme.

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“Everyone else was auto-enrolled in April,” said Cumpsty. “After 12 months of contributing into the second tier, these employees will have the opportunity to go into the original scheme at 3% contribution.

“We very much dealt with auto-enrolment as a compliance issue. If this wasn’t happening, we would not be doing anything more active around pensions. We have a very good offering.”