What is auto enrolment postponement and what does it do?

An employer can choose to postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months for some or all of their staff (and for different time periods and for different staff if required).

Essentially, postponement is the postponement of the assessment of the worker at certain dates and therefore a postponement of whichever employer duty may apply, depending on the category of worker. The assessment is postponed until a date of the employer’s choosing known as the ‘deferral date’.

Postponement is not available at automatic re-enrolment (for eligible jobholders who have previously opted out), which must take place at least every three years.

If you use postponement, you must provide workers with a postponement notice. This must be issued within a month and a day of:

  • your staging date
  • the worker’s first day of employment after your staging date and
  • the day that a worker becomes an eligible jobholder (e.g. the day a worker reaches age 22).

What happens during the postponement period?

The eligible jobholders whose auto enrolment has been postponed will still retain the right to opt in to the pension scheme during the postponement period, as do the non-eligible jobholders. If they choose to do so, the employer must start paying the required pension contributions on their behalf.

An entitled worker could submit a joining notice during the postponement period and the employer would be required to enrol them into a pension scheme but no employer contributions required.

What happens at the end of the postponement period?

On the last day of the postponement period, the employer must be aware of whether any member of staff whose auto enrolment has been postponed is still eligible to be automatically enrolled. If they are, they must be auto enrolled straightaway. It is not possible for an employer to apply a further postponement period even if they originally postponed for less than the maximum of three months.

More on auto enrolment & workplace pensions…

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