Automatic Enrolment terms explained (in plain English)

  • This jargon buster aims to explain the terms that The Department of Work & Pensions are using regularly when talking about Auto Enrolment, in plain English!

    As a small business owner you wear many hats and spin many plates, so, to save you time (and considerable headaches), this guide has taken the complex terms and translated them into something that makes sense.

    Auto Enrolment: Starting with the obvious one. What is auto enrolment? It’s a new type of work-based pension that automatically enrols anyone who qualifies for the scheme.

    Staging: Staging is the staggered introduction of auto enrolment. The largest of employers were required to get underway last year but your staging date (see below) will depend on the size that your business was on 1 April 2012.

    Staging date: Your staging date is the date from which you must begin the registration process of auto enrolment.

    Eligible worker: Employees working in the UK, above the age of 22 and below the state pension age earning more than £9,440 (the figure will be reviewed every year). Employees meeting these criteria must be auto enrolled; that’s most of the country then!

    Inducement: All employees that meet the criteria above MUST be auto enrolled and unless they opt out (see below), the employer must also make contributions (also see below) to their pension pot. Inducement is when an employer encourages an employee to opt-out of an automatic pension scheme, this is illegal!

    Opt-out: This is the responsibility of the employee and not the employer and is the process of an auto enrolled employee choosing to stop making contributions to a pension scheme.

    Phasing: The government has set a minimum level of contributions that has to be put into a ‘Defined Contribution Scheme’ (see below) by employers and workers. This minimum amount increases over five years until all UK employers meet their obligations, this is called phasing.

    Defined Contribution scheme: You need to examine whether or not your existing scheme (if you have one) qualifies for automatic enrolment according to the rules set by the Department for Work and Pensions.

    NEST, the National Employment Savings Trust: This is a pension scheme that must take all employers who apply to join. This is because it is a government scheme that has been created to guarantee that employers that employ low earners can access pension saving and fulfil their automatic enrolment compliance duties.

    Postponement: Employers may choose to delay the deadline by up to three months after their staging date.

    Re-Enrolment: Every three years employers must automatically enrol eligible employees who have formerly opted out. It is up to the employee to once again opt out.