If a worker opts out of pensions auto-enrolment, does the employer have any further auto-enrolment duties in relation to that worker?
Yes, if a worker opts out of pensions auto-enrolment, the employer will have a duty to reassess the worker at some point. When the employer duties kick in again depends on the worker's status at the employer's staging date (or duties start date, for new employers that begin employing people on or after 1 October 2017).
If an eligible jobholder opts out after being auto-enrolled, or after staging if he or she was already a pension scheme member on the staging date, the employer must reassess his or her status every three years, within a three-month window either side of every third anniversary of the initial staging date or duties start date. If the worker is an eligible jobholder at the assessment date, the employer must auto-enrol him or her again, notwithstanding that he or she had previously opted out.
If a worker who is an existing member of a pension scheme on the staging date but not an eligible jobholder (ie he or she was not aged 22 or over with qualifying earnings in excess of the tax threshold for the year) subsequently chooses to opt out of pension saving after staging, the employer must reassess the worker each pay reference period. If the worker reaches the relevant age and earnings threshold and becomes an eligible jobholder, the employer must auto-enrol him or her immediately, even if that is during the next pay reference period after the worker opted out. Similarly, if an entitled worker joins, or a non-eligible jobholder opts into, the pension scheme after staging or the duties start date, and subsequently opt outs, the employer must continually reassess his or her status and auto-enrol him or her if he or she becomes an eligible jobholder.
It is therefore important that employers keep records of workers' status at the staging date or duties start date, so they can calculate when the duty to reassess a worker who opts out will apply.