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What is the effect on pension schemes?

You must complete a declaration of compliance to show that you have an auto enrolment scheme in place by at least five months after your staging date.

You'll also have to re-declare compliance roughly every three years.

If you already have an existing pension scheme, the good news is you can use it to meet your employer duties, as long as it meets three sets of criteria. These are explained below.

Auto enrolment criteria

The scheme must:

  • meet the qualifying criteria
  • not prevent you from automatically enrolling, opting in or re-enrolling a worker
  • not require a worker to provide information or make a choice in order to remain a member of the scheme.

Qualifying criteria

The scheme must:

  • meet the quality requirements
  • be an occupational, personal or stakeholder pension
  • be tax registered.

Quality requirements

  • You must make contributions to the pension scheme in respect of the jobholder.
  • The minimum contribution must be at least 8% of qualifying earnings of which at least 3% must be paid by you.
  • All the benefits payable must be 'money purchase' benefits.

Minimum contributions

The minimum contribution level required to meet the contribution quality requirement is based on a band of earnings called qualifying earnings.

Alternatively, you can certify that your scheme meets the minimum requirements using a scheme definition of pensionable salary. To find out more about qualifying earnings and certification, read the sections below.

Qualifying earnings


The information on this page is based on our current understanding of legislation and regulations and may be subject to change.

Published July 2014

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