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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Special circumstances and your workplace pension

Your enrolment into a workplace pension may be different depending on your employment circumstances. Here are some examples.

Maternity, adoption and carers leave

If you’re receiving maternity, adoption or carers pay above £8,105 a year, and meet the eligibility criteria, then you’ll still be enrolled into a workplace pension.

Agency work

If you work through an agency, the agency that pays your wages will enrol you into a workplace pension, if you meet the eligibility criteria. The agency can choose to delay your enrolment for up to three months. If they do this, they have to let you know in writing. If you want to join the workplace pension in the meantime, they have to accept your request.

Several employers

If you work for several different employers you’ll be automatically enrolled into the pension for each employer that you meet the eligibility criteria for. If so, you may join several different pensions. If you earn less than £8,105 a year for an employer you won’t be enrolled into a pension for that employment.

Employed on a short term contract

If you’re employed on a short term contract and meet the eligibility criteria, you can still join a workplace pension. Your employer can choose to delay the date they automatically enrol you into a workplace pension. This means your contract may end before you are enrolled. If you want to join while you are employed there, you can still do so. You need to write to your employer asking to be enrolled.

Members of the armed forces

If you're a serving member of the armed forces, you will not be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. The Ministry of Defence will continue to make pension arrangements for you. This includes members of the Combined Cadet Force, the Sea Cadets, the Army Cadets Force and the Air Training Corps.

Foreign employer

If you work in the UK for an employer who is registered overseas, your employer may automatically enrol you into a workplace pension.

Your employer may not be aware of this new UK law. You may need to tell your employer of their obligation to enrol you into a pension.

Employers must enrol you into a pension that meets the UK government’s standards within the European Economic Area or Switzerland.  It will then be regulated by the UK.

Office holders

Office holders will not be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. This is because for pension purposes they are not classed as employees.

However, if you have a contract of employment, for instance you are a Prison Chaplain, you will be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. This is as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Seafarers

If you work on a ship or hovercraft and you're eligible, you'll be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. But your employer must be satisfied that you're working in, or usually work in, the UK. If you're a share fisherman you'll not be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension, as you're self employed. Please note, these proposals are currently subject to approval.

Offshore workers

You'll be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension if you're eligible and work in the:

  • UK territorial sea
  • UK continental shelf
  • UK sector of a cross-boundary field

Please note, these proposals are currently subject to approval.

Tax credits customers

If you’re in a workplace pension scheme, the amount of tax credits you’re given will take into account the contributions you pay from your salary. This is as long as the Tax Credit Office has your most up to date income details.

Some people might be entitled to tax credits for the first time because they are now making contributions to a workplace pension.

If you're already getting tax credits, you'll be asked to confirm your income when the Tax Credit Office asks you to 'renew' your claim. This is between April and June each year.

When you start paying into a workplace pension it could reduce your take home pay. So you might want to report your lower income before you're asked to renew. You can do this by calling the Tax Credit Helpline. Then the Tax Credit Office can make sure you're still getting the right payments. Even if your lower income doesn't make any difference now, they'll use it to work out your payments for next year, starting on 6 April.

Student loan finance

Pension contributions affect your entitlement to student loans and grants and the level of repayments of student loans from your salary. For more information about student loans and how they are assessed, see the Student Loans Company website.

Employers of carers

If you’re a carer you may be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by your employer if both the following apply:

  • you qualify for automatic enrolment
  • your employer has their care needs funded by Direct Payment or a Personal Budget and this is then paid to you

See ‘Enrolling into a pension at work’ for more information.

Direct Payment or Personal Budget is managed by local councils. It’s provided to people who receive community care services who want to pay for and manage their own care. The level of funding will vary between local authorities. It’s up to each council to decide how much they can pay towards the service and whether a contribution is due from the individual.

When deciding on the amount of funding, Councils will consider:

  • the cost of employing the carer, including tax and National Insurance contributions 
  • any other costs that may arise

Pension contributions due to be deducted automatically because of workplace pension reform will be considered by councils in the same way as other employment costs.

Employers are given money by their local authority to meet caring costs. The amount you will receive into your carer’s pension will have to come out of the money given to your employer. 

Your employer’s local social services department may be able to help your employer with the paperwork to handle their duties as an employer.

However, your employer will not have to enrol you into a pension until 2015 at the earliest.

More useful links

Additional links

Being enrolled into a workplace pension

Starting from October 2012, millions of workers will be enrolled into a workplace pension

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