How are employees protected from detrimental treatment or dismissal in relation to pensions auto-enrolment?

Under s.55 of the Pensions Act 2008 a worker is protected from being subjected to a detriment by the employer on the ground that:

  • any action was taken or proposed with a view to enforcing the worker's auto-enrolment rights;
  • the employer was prosecuted for an offence under the auto-enrolment legislation as a result of action taken to enforce the worker's auto-enrolment rights; or
  • the employer's auto-enrolment duties apply to the worker, or will or might apply.

For example, it would be unlawful for an employer to withhold a pay rise that would take a worker over the lower earnings limit, on the ground that the rise would result in his or her becoming a jobholder with auto-enrolment rights.

Under s.104D of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the dismissal of an employee on any of the above grounds will be automatically unfair. An employee does not have to meet the minimum service requirement to claim unfair dismissal in these circumstances.