Auto-enrolment in deep crisis

Auto-enrolment in deep crisis

Concerns that that 1.7 million workers are already left behind by auto-enrolment; one million workers auto-enrolled in a pension, but 1.7 million left behind; 3.8 million part-time workers are at risk of retiring on just the state pension; 1.8 million of these workers could qualify for an employer pension contribution. Women are particularly at risk: three out of every four part-time workers are female.

The Pensions Regulator has reported that 1,153 companies have automatically enrolled 1 million workers into a pension scheme. However 1.7 million workers employed by those companies have NOT been automatically enrolled, because they do not qualify. These figures show that large parts of the population are not going to feel the benefit of the auto-enrolment programme, in particular part-time workers. Laith Khalaf, Head of Corporate Research: “Automatic enrolment is a vitally important project, but it is not a silver bullet. Millions of part-time workers are going to be overlooked because they don't earn enough, likewise the self-employed are excluded. There is still therefore a pressing need to foster a savings culture alongside auto-enrolment, and to provide a decent level of state pension.”

The Pensions Regulator has announced that so far 1,153 companies have met their legal obligations by auto-enrolling just over 1 million employees into a company pension. However the data also shows that these companies employ 1.7 million employees who have not been auto-enrolled into a pension scheme. They will not have been enrolled because: They earn under £9,440 (the minimum threshold to be auto-enrolled). They are under 22 (the minimum age for auto-enrolment). They are over state pension age (the maximum age for auto-enrolment).

Workers under 22 are less of a worry, auto-enrolment will catch up with them in due course. Workers over state pension age may not have sufficient retirement savings, and so are a worry in that respect, but there is little auto-enrolment can do to help them at this late stage. However, part-time workers earning £9,440 or less are a definite concern, as they may get left behind in the retirement race. Women are particularly at risk here: three quarters of part-time workers are female. There are 6.7 million part-time workers in the labour force. Approximately 3.8 million of them earn under £9,440 and consequently won't get automatically enrolled into a pension, though they can opt in.

An estimated 1.8 million of these workers could benefit from an employer contribution if they were to opt in: any worker earning over £5,668 can opt into a pension and their employer is obliged to pay in too. Employers are legally obliged to inform eligible staff of the right to opt in to the company pension scheme and get an employer contribution. Pro-active employers may wish to highlight the benefit of doing so, in particular the difference it could make to retirement incomes.

An estimated 1.8 million part-time workers will be eligible for an employer pension contribution under auto-enrolment, but only if they opt in to their company pension scheme. They should consider doing this, subject to affordability. An employer contribution is an extremely valuable savings boost and should not be given up lightly.

For each £100 a worker pays in under auto-enrolment, the government adds £25 and their employer would add £75. For a £100 outlay, £200 is therefore paid into a pension- doubling your money instantly. Some part-time workers may not be able to afford this, which is why they have largely been excluded from auto-enrolment. However some part-time workers will have more than one part-time job, or indeed may have a spouse or partner who works full time. In both of these cases they may be able to afford to save into a pension, and should consider doing so.

The alternative to saving for retirement is ending up on the state pension, which under the new single tier looks likely to be in the region of £7,500 a year. This is not a desirable result because: £7,500 a year is about £145 a week, not a lot to live on. State pension age is going up, and could hit 70 in the not too distant future. Future governments can move the goalposts, and almost certainly will. The inflation-linking on the state pension may be scaled back after the end of this parliament.

Half of those in affluent households are concerned that retirement income will not meet their needs. Those without any pension preparation currently do not expect to start planning until an average age of 41; 52 percent of respondents expect to continue working in their retirement. London sees the biggest gap between concerns and the ability to save for a pension. Even affluent households are feeling under pressure over the prospect of retiring without sufficient income, according to Close Brothers Asset Management”s inaugural Trends in Wealth Report: Road to Retirement.

(Source for figures: ONS and Hargreaves Lansdown)

Read more

Latest News

Read More

Can salary sacrifice schemes boost workplace sustainability?

7 December 2023


Receive the latest HR news and strategic content

Please note, as per the GDPR Legislation, we need to ensure you are ‘Opted In’ to receive updates from ‘theHRDIRECTOR’. We will NEVER sell, rent, share or give away your data to third parties. We only use it to send information about our products and updates within the HR space To see our Privacy Policy – click here

Latest HR Jobs

Queen Mary University of LondonSalary: £38,165 to £44,722 per annum.

University of Oxford – Radcliffe Department of MedicineSalary: £28,759 to £33,966 per annum

Overall responsibility for all aspects of People and Culture including; recruitment, onboarding & induction, training and development, career progression,…From CTI Digital – Tue, 05 Dec

Reporting into the FD the role will have responsibility for the full HR agenda for this highly successful business of c350 people. £70,000 – £75,000

Read the latest digital issue of theHRDIRECTOR for FREE

Read the latest digital issue of theHRDIRECTOR for FREE