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Key points

  • We have tools and information so that you can help your client meet their duties.
  • The HMRC Basic Payroll Tools will not assess your client’s staff or supply information to their pension scheme.

Assessing who to enrol

One of your client’s automatic enrolment duties is to enrol eligible staff into a workplace pension scheme and to make contributions into the scheme. You can work out which of your client’s staff they’ll need to enrol manually using the table in step 3. Checking who to enrol.

Calculating contributions

One of your client’s automatic enrolment duties will be to pay regular pension contributions in respect of staff they’ve enrolled into their workplace pension scheme, as well as any who choose to opt in. You can find information on how to calculate contributions and the contributions rates for 2017 and onwards in step 4. Working out your client’s costs.

We are unable to show you exactly how much your client will have to pay as the exact calculation method will be determined by the pension scheme they choose. Therefore, it is important your client understands from their pension scheme how to calculate pension contributions. We advise you or your client to contact their pension scheme to find out this information.

The law has set a minimum level for employer contributions – this is 1% until 6 April 2018. The calculation example below uses the minimum contribution levels, and contributions are calculated based on earnings between a lower and upper threshold. The minimum level is a common calculation method used by many schemes. However, other pension schemes may use alternative methods such as calculations based on all earnings or alternative thresholds.

The minimum contribution level for the current tax year is a total contribution of 2% (with at least 1% of that contributed by the employer). The minimum contribution level is calculated based on pensionable pay between the following lower and upper qualifying earnings levels.

Pay reference
2017 - 2018 Annual 1 week 1 month
Lower level of qualifying earnings £5,876 £113 £490
Upper level of qualifying earnings £45,000 £866 £3,750

Examples:

  1. A staff member earns £200 a week. Weekly earnings are above the lower earning threshold of £113, so £200 - £113 = £87 of earnings to calculate contributions against. Therefore:
    • 2% of £87 = £1.74, the minimum total contribution
    • 1% of £87 = £0.87, the minimum amount the employer must contribute as part of the total
    • £0.87 the remaining 1% which the staff member will contribute (unless the employer opts to pay all or part of it depending on the scheme rules).
  2. A staff member earns £900 a week. As contributions are only calculated on pay between the upper and lower thresholds, pay above the upper threshold is disregarded and the total is reduced to £866. Applying the lower threshold as well, £866 - £113 = £753 of earnings to calculate contributions against. Therefore:
    • 2% of £753 = £15.06, the minimum total contribution
    • 1% of £715 = £7.53, the minimum amount the employer must contribute as part of the total
    • £7.53 the remaining 1% which the staff member will contribute (unless the employer opts to pay all or part of it depending on the scheme rules).

Payroll processes

You can find help on the actions to consider to ensure your client’s payroll process can support automatic enrolment on step 5. Checking records and payroll processes.

If you are unsure of whether your client’s payroll software is designed to carry out all the tasks to help them meet their ongoing duties, read checking payroll software supports automatic enrolment.

If your client manages their payroll using HMRC's Basic PAYE Tools, please be aware that HMRC will not assess your client’s staff or supply information to their pension provider.

Basic assessment tool - pension contribution calculator

This tool is a staff assessment and pension contribution calculator for automatic enrolment, in Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) spreadsheet format. 

It has been tested for compatibility with Microsoft Excel and Apache OpenOffice Calc v4.1.2 using Microsoft Windows operating systems.

The tool allows you to work out if you have any staff who need to be put into a pension scheme, and how much you must pay in contributions into it.

In order to use this tool to work out contributions you will need to have agreed with the chosen pension scheme:

  • the percentage of earnings that will be paid by the employer and their member of staff into the scheme
  • what form of tax relief is being used.

This tool is only valid for pay days that fall on or after 6 April 2015 up to and including 4 April 2018. Please note that we cannot guarantee that it will continue to be supported after this date with further updates.

Please note that the pension scheme may require you to calculate contributions using a different formula to that used in the tool.

It is the responsibility of employers to ensure full compliance with their duties under the Pensions Act 2008 and other pensions legislation. This tool is provided to assist employers and whilst we continually endeavour to ensure the proper functioning of the tool, the regulator cannot accept responsibility for any loss, disruption or damage that may arise from its use.

Pension contributions for HMRC Basic PAYE Tools users

As part of completing their real time information return, your client will need to input pension contribution amounts for the member of staff (where applicable) into the HMRC Basic PAYE Tools.

When your client sets up their pension scheme, they will agree with the scheme:

  • the percentage of earnings that will be paid by the employer and member of staff
  • which earnings will be used to calculate pension contributions (the ‘pensionable earnings’), for example ‘qualifying earnings’, ‘basic pay’, or ‘all pay’
  • when pension contributions are to be paid (the ‘due date’)

Your client should ask their pension scheme how much the contributions should be and when they should pay them. They can then input this information into the Basic PAYE Tools. Your client will need to know whether contributions should be paid from gross pay (commonly known as a ‘net pay arrangement’) or net pay (commonly known as a ‘relief at source’ arrangement). Make sure your client checks this and inputs the corresponding gross or net pension contributions into the tool.

For more information about contributions, go to step 5. Working out your client’s costs.

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