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Employing staff on variable hours, contracts and pay

Even if you employ short-term, seasonal, temporary staff or other staff who are not on regular hours or incomes (for example; fruitpickers, IT contractors or labourers) and you pay them through a payroll, then legal duties will apply to you.

Who do I need to automatically enrol?

You must assess your staff for automatic enrolment based on their ages and how much they earn

Even if the number of people you employ varies, or they have fluctuating hours and pay, you must assess them each individually every time you run your payroll. Any staff that are aged between 22 up to state pension age and earn over £192 a week or £833 a month must be put into a pension scheme which you must contribute towards.

If your staff have been enrolled into a pension scheme and their earnings drop below £192 a week (£833 a month) during a pay period but remain above £112 a week (£486 a month) you will still need to pay contributions. If they earn below this amount, they may remain with the scheme (check with your scheme provider) during this period.

Which pension scheme should I choose?

If you already have a pension scheme for your staff, check you can use it for automatic enrolment by contacting your provider. If you can’t, you’ll need to choose a new scheme. One thing that a lot of employers with temporary staff have in common is that some of their workers have English as a second language. Your pension provider may offer the option of translating the letters they issue to staff.

Find more information on choosing a pension scheme.

Using payroll software that supports automatic enrolment

If you have transient staff with fluctuating earnings then having the right payroll software can really help. Most software will automatically assess employees at each pay cycle, calculate contributions where necessary, and some also have a postponement function built into it, so it’s important to find the right software that meets your needs.

Find more information on check your records and payroll process.

Using postponement can help

If you have temporary or short-term staff who won’t be working for you for longer than three months you may decide to postpone assessing them. You will not be required to put them into a pension scheme or make contributions to the scheme unless they expressly ask to be put into a scheme. At the end of the postponement period, you must assess and automatically enrol any staff who are still working for you if they meet the age and earnings thresholds.

Find more information about postponement.

Informing your staff about automatic enrolment

You must write to your staff to tell them how automatic enrolment applies to them and explain their rights. You must also manage any staff requests to leave or join a scheme as part of your ongoing duties.

What if I am an employment agency?

If you are an employment agency supplying staff to other businesses and you are responsible for paying these staff, you are the employer and are responsible for fulfilling the duties for automatic enrolment in respect of them.