The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced many challenges for employers. However, despite the pandemic, their responsibilities in relation to auto-enrolment remain the same. The employer’s on-going duties include their re-enrolment and re-declaration obligations.
Every 3 years, the employer must put certain members of staff back into their auto-enrolment pension scheme and complete a declaration to tell the Pensions Regulator that they have done so. This is known as re-enrolment and re-declaration.
The key date is the third anniversary of the employer’s staging date or start date. Thereafter, the re-enrolment and re-declaration processes must be undertaken at three-year intervals.
Under re-enrolment, the employer must check:
- whether they have staff to put back into the pension scheme and re-enrol them; and
- write to staff who have been re-enrolled.
To do this, the employer will need to assess staff who have left the scheme or who have reduced their contributions.
Staff must be enrolled in a pension scheme automatically if:
- they are aged between 22 and State Pension Age.
- they earn over £10,000 a year (£833 a month, £192 a week).
If staff who meet the above criteria have previously opted out, they need to be re-enrolled.
Staff who need to be re-enrolled should be put back into the pension scheme within 6 weeks of the re-enrolment date. If this date is missed, it should be done within 6 weeks of the date on which staff were assessed.
If an employee does not want to be a member of the scheme, they can opt out. However, they must be re-enrolled if they are eligible at the re-enrolment date; once re-enrolled they can opt out. Opting out lasts only until the next re-enrolment date, at which time they must be put back in (but can then opt out again if they want to). Employers must re-enrol eligible staff even if they know they want to opt out.
Once staff have been re-enrolled, the employer must deduct employee contributions from their pay and pay them over to the scheme with the employer contributions.
The employer must write to staff who have been re-enrolled to let them know, and also to inform them of the contributions that will be paid and that they can opt out if they want to.
The final stage of the re-enrolment and re-declaration process is to submit the re-declaration of compliance. This has to be done regardless of whether or not staff have been put back into the pension scheme.
The re-declaration of compliance is an online form which confirms to the Pensions Regulator the employer has met their legal obligations in relation to auto-enrolment. The re-declaration of compliance must be filed no later than 5 months from the third anniversary of the duties start date, or staging date, as appropriate. The deadline is the same regardless of whether staff within 6 weeks are assessed within of the re-enrolment date, or at a later date.