Government announces auto-enrolment changes

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced new changes to auto-enrolment legislation, which are aimed at making it easier for future tranches of employers to enrol their employees into a pension scheme.

The government received 112 responses to its consultation launched in September 2012 and has now finalised amendments to the regulations.

The changes include:

  • The auto-enrolment joining window is extended from one month to six weeks.
  • The deadline for employers to provide information to individuals on their opt-in and joining rights is extended to six weeks.
  • The deadlines for registration and postponement notices fit with the extended joining window.
  • The extended deadline for passing worker contributions to a pension scheme applies to all new joiners, including contract joiners.
  • The opt-out notice provisions make clear that schemes can customise notices.
  • There is greater clarity and consistency concerning the requirements for defined benefit test schemes in relation to the appropriate age, service limits and revaluation that apply in those schemes.
  • Alternative definitions of pay reference periods for both assessing jobholder status and determining whether a scheme is a qualifying one.

The majority of these changes will be implemented from 1 November 2013 with those on the joining window and registration deadlines coming into force from 1 April 2014.

Steve Webb (pictured), pensions minister, said: “Employers and our partners in the pensions and payroll industries have made a major contribution in delivering these landmark reforms since October 2012.

“Now, one year in, we want to build on this success as medium-sized employers prepare to automatically enrol their staff into a workplace pension.

“These changes are aimed at streamlining the system and making it easier for employers to meet their duties.”