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What is automatic re-enrolment?

Automatic re-enrolment is the process where your client must re-enrol certain staff into a pension scheme that can be used for automatic enrolment, if they’re not already active members of one.

It takes place regularly every three years, and also happens on an immediate basis if a worker or the pension scheme meets certain criteria. 

Your client:           

  • must choose a re-enrolment date that falls anywhere within a six-month timeframe. This starts three months before the third anniversary of their original staging date, and ends three months after it (for example a staging date of 1 October 2013 would mean the employer could choose to re-enrol between 1 July and 31 December 2016)
  • doesn’t need to inform us of their chosen re-enrolment date until they complete their re-declaration of compliance
  • must identify eligible staff, re-enrol them with effect from their chosen re-enrolment date and start contributing to their pension scheme from that date
  • must write to eligible staff individually, within six weeks of their chosen re-enrolment date, to tell them how automatic re-enrolment applies to them - template letters are available to help them do this
  • must complete a re-declaration of compliance within five calendar months of the third anniversary of the employer's staging date 
  • cannot use postponement (where your client may delay working out who to put into a pension scheme) on any staff who need to be re-enrolled
  • should make sure the contact details they have given us are up to date, so we can send them information regarding their re-enrolment duties. They will need to update this via the nominate a contact form, where you can also give your contact details to receive additional communications to help you support your clients

Ongoing automatic enrolment

Whenever an employer runs their payroll they should assess their staff to work out who to put into a pension scheme, and enrol anyone for whom they have duties, on an ongoing basis.

However, if these staff decide to leave the scheme they will need to be re-enrolled on the next three-yearly re-enrolment date, along with any other staff who may also need to be re-enrolled for other reasons. See 'Assessing staff' below.

Choosing a re-enrolment date

An employer must choose a re-enrolment date that falls in the three months either side of the third anniversary of their staging date. 

The date can be any day of the month that the employer chooses, so for employers who staged on 1 October 2013, they could choose to re-enrol on any day between 1 July and 31 December 2016

This gives them a six-month timeframe in which they can choose a re-enrolment date, but they must have the same re-enrolment date for all staff they have to re-enrol.

Therefore, where an employer operates more than one pay cycle, for example monthly and weekly, they cannot use one re-enrolment date for monthly paid workers and another for weekly paid workers.

The re-enrolment date will then be the effective start date of membership of a pension scheme. 

Please note that the re-enrolment date is based on the employer's original staging date, and not on when an individual member of staff was put into a pension scheme.

It also becomes the start date of the six week period when your clients need to write to affected staff and notify them of their re-enrolment, and payments into the scheme must begin. Pension contributions should be calculated from this date.

Assessing staff on the re-enrolment date

Your client will need to carry out an assessment of certain staff on their re-enrolment date to see whether they meet the age and earnings criteria to be re-enrolled.

This applies to staff who have previously been assessed for automatic enrolment and have:

  • opted out of their automatic enrolment pension scheme
  • left the pension scheme under the scheme rules, but not as an opt-out (known as 'ceasing active membership' - more information on this can be found in our Detailed guidance)
  • stayed in their pension scheme but have chosen to reduce the level of pension contributions to below the minimum level required by automatic enrolment

If any of the above events happen within 12 months of an employer’s chosen re-enrolment date, they can decide to enrol the eligible staff, but they are not required to do so. They should, however, be re-enrolled at the next re-enrolment date in another three years time.

The employer can also choose whether or not to re-enrol a member of staff meeting the age and earnings criteria if the event happened more than 12 months before the chosen re-enrolment date and:

  • they are a director working under an employment contract
  • they are a partner in a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) company, but not a 'salaried member' under HMRC tax rules (duties continue to apply in full to 'salaried members')
  • they are leaving the employer and their notice period is no more than six weeks and overlaps with the re-enrolment date
  • they have HMRC tax protected status for their pension savings
  • within the last 12 months they left a qualifying pension, or cashed-in and closed an occupational (trust based) pension scheme, and then re-joined the employer as a member of staff

Otherwise, if the event happened more than 12 months before the chosen re-enrolment date and the age and earnings criteria are met, the employer must re-enrol the member of staff.

In all cases, if an employer finds that they don't have any eligible staff to re-enrol, they'll still need to complete their re-declaration of compliance.

Please note that in the same pay cycle your client may be assessing other staff who have never been automatically enrolled before. Postponement can be used for any staff who become eligible for automatic enrolment for the first time - it's only those staff being re-enrolled where it isn't allowed. 

Re-enrolling staff

If your client has staff to re-enrol, they must ensure they are put into a pension scheme that can be used for automatic enrolment within six weeks of the chosen re-enrolment date.

Your client must then write to them within the same six-week timeframe - letter templates are available to help them do this. The employer only needs to write to the staff they have re-enrolled.

Opting out

Once your client has automatically re-enrolled staff, they remain in your client’s scheme unless they choose to opt out or if they decide to leave the scheme after the opt-out period has ended.

There is a one-month timeframe in which staff can opt out of the scheme. If any staff choose to do so, your client will need to process their opt-out notices and keep records accordingly.

Re-declaration

All employers must complete a re-declaration of compliance within five calendar months of the third anniversary of their staging date.

An employer’s re-declaration is mandatory and failure to complete it on time means they will not have met all of their duties, which could result in enforcement action, including fines.

They will need to complete a re-declaration telling us what their chosen re-declaration date was, even if they had no eligible members of staff to re-enrol.

For their convenience, key details entered by the employer when they made their original declaration of compliance will be automatically filled in from our records on the re-declaration form. 

This helps to make re-declaring a smoother experience for them, so there's no need to wait to complete it. We recommend that your clients re-declare as soon as their re-enrolment duties are complete, rather than putting it off until the end of the five month period.

They do not have to wait until the third anniversary of their staging date to re-declare, and can do this as early as they like after their chosen re-enrolment date.

Re-enrolling certain staff outside the regular three-year period

In some cases, the employer will need to re-enrol their staff back into an automatic enrolment scheme immediately - some examples of these circumstances are given below, and more information can be found in our Detailed guidance.

If a member of staff leaves their pension scheme due to the actions of the employer or the pension scheme, or if the employer or provider changes the scheme rules so that it no longer qualifies for automatic enrolment, then the member of staff must be immediately re-enrolled into a scheme that does.

Staff must also be immediately re-enrolled if the scheme's managers or trustees close it to any further contributions (known as 'making the scheme paid-up'), or if the scheme's rules don't allow active membership to continue when earnings drop below the lower level of earnings.

In these cases, the member of staff must be re-enrolled straight away as soon as they earn more than £112 per week (£464 per month) - your clients should not wait until the next three-yearly re-enrolment period to re-enrol these workers.

There is a six week joining timeframe, the right to opt-out, and letters that must be sent to the member of staff by the employer, but postponement cannot be used.

Advanced guidance

These resources may help if you have more detailed questions on the above:

See related content

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