Who is a worker for the purposes of pensions auto-enrolment?

The pensions auto-enrolment provisions apply only in relation to "workers". These are individuals who work, or ordinarily work, in the UK under a contract of employment, or who have a contract to provide work or services personally and are not undertaking that work as part of their own business (s.88 of the Pensions Act 2008).

Employers should not assume that an individual who has been classed as self-employed by HM Revenue and Customs for tax and national insurance purposes will not be classed as a worker for the purposes of pensions auto-enrolment.

There are exceptions that make the auto-enrolment duty discretionary in relation to:

  • company directors who have a contract of employment with the company; and
  • members of limited liability partnerships who are classed as workers but who are not employees for tax purposes.