What is Pensions Auto-enrolment? What is Pensions Auto-enrolment?

Auto-enrolment is intended to get more people saving into a pension scheme to provide for their retirement.  At present around half of all employees in the UK are not members of any occupational pension scheme and are not making any provision for their retirement. With life expectancy continuing to increase, the Government is concerned that many people will not have enough income to support their retirement years. 

When is it happening? When is it happening?

It is being applied to employers at different times, depending on their size. The largest employers had to introduce Auto-Enrolment from 1st October 2012.  Auto enrolment commenced at this University on 1st April 2013. Every 3 years this University will go through cyclical re-enrolment whereby the auto enrolment process is repeated so you may find if you are not a member of a pension scheme you are asked to revisit your decision on a regular basis. The only exemptions are for employees who have opted out within the last 12 months of the cyclical re-enrolment date. The next phase will be in 2019.

Will it affect me? Will it affect me?

Potentially it affects any worker who meets all of the following criteria:

  • Age - if you are 22 or over but no more than State Pension Age
  • Earnings - if your earnings in any month exceed £833.00 
  • Working in the UK - if you ordinarily work in the UK
  • And you are not a contributing member of one of the pension schemes supported by the University.

The pension schemes supported by the University are:

  • UEASSS - for support staff prior to 01/11/2007, when the scheme closed to new member
  • USS - for all staff - as of 1st April 2016, the USS Retirement Income Builder is used for all members of USS
  • NHSPS - for certain clinical academics who exercised their option to remain in this scheme on appointment to the University.

Even if you have opted out before for very good reasons the legislation requires that we now automatically enrol you in the appropriate qualifying scheme.

Letters will be sent out to all those who are affected explaining the changes. The University will inform you when you are auto-enrolled and tell you of your options, including the right to opt-out.

Once you have been auto-enrolled, you will have an option to opt-out of the pension scheme if you believe this is appropriate for you.  Refer to question 10 for further details on this option.

Why is saving for my future important? Why is saving for my future important?

Life expectancy is increasing rapidly and living longer means a longer retirement to fund. You can provide this either by continuing to work, or by saving now to have funds to enjoy in the future - and a pension is a tax-efficient way of doing this that also receives contributions from your employer.

What do I do if I am already a member of the UEASSS/USS/NHSPS? What do I do if I am already a member of the UEASSS/USS/NHSPS?

If you are an active member of one of these schemes, paying contributions either directly or via salary sacrifice, i.e. PensionsExtra, then you will not be affected by these changes.  If you cease being a contributing member of the scheme while continuing in employment, you will be subject to assessment for auto-enrolment. 

I am on a temporary, short-term contract/Associate tutor/casual worker - does auto enrolment apply to me? I am on a temporary, short-term contract/Associate tutor/casual worker - does auto enrolment apply to me?

In short – yes.  If you are not an active member of USS, UEASSS or NHSPS you will be assessed for auto-enrolment. However, for staff whose earnings are variable from month to month, the assessment for auto-enrolment is assessed after a three month period, referred to in the legislation as the postponement period.  If your earnings from all employment contracts at UEA exceed the threshold (see qu. 3) in the following month, then you will be auto enrolled from the start of the month.  You will have the right to opt in during the postponement period.

I am already in receipt of a pension will I still be auto enrolled? I am already in receipt of a pension will I still be auto enrolled?

The auto-enrolment regulations continue to apply even if you are currently receiving a pension – refer to questions 3 and 6 to see how you would be affected.

If you are a USS pensioner and meet the criteria for auto-enrolment then you will be auto-enrolled into USS (RIB section).

I am a new member of staff and have been told to contact Payroll & Pensions, what should I do? I am a new member of staff and have been told to contact Payroll & Pensions, what should I do?

You should contact Payroll & Pensions as requested since it is important to make you fully aware of the University's pension arrangements and how you are affected.  You will have been appointed in one of two ways:

a)      You may have received a letter from HR advising together with the document "Five good reasons to be a member of USS" and requesting that you arrange an appointment with the Payroll and Pensions office to find out more about pensions. In this case you will be enrolled in the pension scheme as part of your employment contract (this is referred to as contractual enrolment), unless you wish to opt-out.  If you do wish to opt-out you will need to complete the USS opt-out form and submit this to the Payroll and Pensions Office. 

b)       Alternatively, you may have signed a contract that enables you to opt-in to USS and advises you to contact the Payroll and Pensions Office if you wish to discuss this option.  However, you will automatically be enrolled in USS if you meet the auto enrolment criteria and you will be advised if this is the case.  Assessment for auto enrolment will be made by reference to your earnings over a three month period; see question 6 for details on how this operates. 

I have been auto-enrolled by another employer am I still affected? I have been auto-enrolled by another employer am I still affected?

It does not matter if you are a member of another pension scheme through another employment, or if you have been auto-enrolled by another employer; the auto-enrolment regulations require each employer to assess its own workers, and to apply auto-enrolment to them if they meet the criteria for that employer. Refer to questions 3 and 6 to determine how you would be assessed for auto-enrolment depending on your type of contract and the relevant criteria.

I want to opt out - how do I do that? I want to opt out - how do I do that?

You can opt out after you have been auto-enrolled, but not before.

To opt out you will need to complete an opt out form and submit this to the University.   The form must be obtained from USS, either by contacting them directly or from the USS website.  When completing the form please ensure the institution name is University of East Anglia.

If you opt-out within one month of being auto enrolled then you will be treated as never having joined the scheme and your contributions will be refunded. [In practice, due to the   way in which the USS scheme operates, you may be entitled to a refund of contributions if you opt-out within 3 months of being enrolled in the scheme, but you should not rely on this and will need to check with the Payroll and Pensions office if this applies to you.]

Please note that the University is prohibited, by law, from advising you in relation to opting-out of the scheme.  However, if you require any further information on your pension arrangements then please contact pensions to arrange an appointment or to ask for assistance.

The University will be obliged under auto enrolment rules to re- enrol you again, three years later.

What are the benefits of joining a pension scheme? What are the benefits of joining a pension scheme?

A pension is a way of saving money to provide you with an income when you retire. There are many benefits to having a pension at work.

  • The University will pay into it. This contribution from the University means your pension can build up more quickly than if you were saving for your retirement on your own.
  • If you are a tax payer, you can get tax relief on your contributions and this means it reduces the real cost to you of your pension contribution.
  • Your pension belongs to you, even if you leave your employer in the future. Being in USS is an important step towards giving yourself the lifestyle you would like in later life.

Further information on USS is available or from workplace pensions which is available from direct.gov.uk 

How much will pension enrolment cost me? How much will pension enrolment cost me?

Your pension contribution will be deducted from your salary and shown on your payslip. The cost of your contribution is 8%, and the University (employer) contribution is 18%.

Tax savings will apply to individuals that pay tax on their salaries and national insurance savings may also apply if you participate in the scheme through PensionsExtra. The vast majority of staff pay their pension contributions in this way and you can read the PensionsExtra Booklet or seek advice from the Pensions team.

I don’t meet the criteria to be auto enrolled – can I still join a pension scheme? I don’t meet the criteria to be auto enrolled – can I still join a pension scheme?

If you are aged at least 16, but not over 74, then you can opt-in to the scheme at any time, regardless of your earnings. You can opt in to USS (RIB section) by contacting Pensions.