What are an employer's duties under the auto-enrolment provisions when it receives an opt-in or joining notice from a worker?
When an employer receives an opt-in or joining notice from a worker, it must check that the notice is valid, ie in writing (email is acceptable) and signed or, if submitted by email, that it includes a statement from the worker that they personally submitted the notice. Where the worker has already submitted a notice within the last 12 months, the employer is not obliged to accept another opt-in or joining notice from them. The employer must also check that the individual is classed as a non-eligible jobholder, eligible jobholder (which may be the case if they have previously opted out) or entitled worker on the day that the notice is received.
Where these conditions are met, the employer must assess the individual on the enrolment date, which is the first day of the pay reference period after the opt-in or joining notice is received or the start of the second pay reference period if the payroll has already closed. Where the individual is a non-eligible or eligible jobholder, the employer must arrange membership of a qualifying pension scheme for them within six weeks of the enrolment date. Where the individual is an entitled worker, it must arrange membership of a UK tax registered pension scheme, but there is no time limit for this set out in the legislation.
If an individual opts in or requests to join a pension scheme during postponement, the employer must assess the individual on the deferral date (the end of the postponement period) where that date falls earlier than the enrolment date. If, on the deferral date, the individual is an eligible jobholder, the employer will need to auto-enrol them from the deferral date. However, where the individual is a non-eligible jobholder on the deferral date, the opt-in will take effect from the original enrolment date identified, ie the first day of the pay reference period after the opt-in is received or the start of the second pay reference period if the payroll has already closed. Membership of the relevant scheme must be completed within six weeks and backdated to the enrolment date.