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Key points

  • If you don’t have a pension scheme that you can use for automatic enrolment, you will need to choose a new one.
  • If you already have a pension scheme that you want to use for automatic enrolment, you need to check that you can use it.
  • Your scheme must meet certain criteria and should be good quality.

If you don't have a pension scheme

If you don’t have a scheme, or you can’t use (or don’t want to use) your existing scheme, you must choose a new one.

Most employers are likely to use a defined contribution (DC) scheme for automatic enrolment. This is mainly because these types of schemes do not promise the member a certain size of pension at retirement. This means that the employer is only committed to paying a finite amount of contributions to the scheme in respect of eligible workers.

The Pensions Regulator has set out a number of ‘quality features’ for DC schemes to ensure members receive good outcomes from their retirement savings. Our studies have shown that larger schemes, for example group personal pensions and master trusts, generally find it easier to meet these standards.   

To find a pension scheme with good quality standards and suitable for automatic enrolment, you can speak to scheme providers or a pension adviser. You  also need to check that the provider will accept your application as not all providers will accept all sizes and types of employers. Go to finding a provider.

If you are thinking of setting up a new trust based scheme, rather than enrolling your workers into an existing group personal pension or master trust, you should be aware that this involves, amongst other things, setting up a board of trustees to run the scheme and may involve more cost and work for you. However, if you will have more than 1,000 people saving in the scheme, then it may be cost effective for you to do so.

If you have a pension scheme

You may already have a pension scheme, which you probably know as a stakeholder scheme, group personal pension or trust-based scheme.

If you want to continue using your scheme for existing members, you need to check that it meets certain qualifying criteria. If you also want to use your scheme to automatically enrol new members, it will need to meet some additional criteria. Please follow the link below for the criteria.

You should also check that the scheme is good quality, for example it provides value for money and protects your staff’s savings. Contact your provider or trustees to check whether you can continue to use your scheme for your automatic enrolment duties.

If your provider or trustees can’t demonstrate that the scheme meets the criteria and is good quality, you may be able to adapt it. You should also consider whether it would be better to choose a new scheme.

To check if your existing scheme meets the qualifying and automatic enrolment criteria, go to does your existing scheme qualify?

Reviewing the quality of a new or existing scheme

You should ask the provider or trustees whether the scheme includes our DC quality features. We’ve developed the DC quality features as a way for trustees and providers to assess whether their scheme is likely to deliver good retirement outcomes for members.

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