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Re-enrolment for schools and academies

When a school changes status to become an academy or a foundation school, the employer for automatic enrolment purposes also changes. A new employer - the academy proprietor or the governing body - is created.

In this case, as a new employer has been created, the automatic enrolment duties for that employer start again, even though staff may have transferred from the old employer (such as the local authority), to the new employer.

If your school is becoming an academy or a foundation school, you need to be aware if its automatic enrolment duties will change as a result.

If the employer does change, the duties will start again from the beginning of the automatic enrolment process, giving you new dates for what you must do and by when.

As a result of this, you may not need to complete re-enrolment or your re-declaration of compliance yet.

How do I work out if the employer has changed?

The table sets out a general guide to the different employer bodies for each type of school:

Type of school Includes Employer
Maintained schools Maintained community, voluntary controlled, community special and maintained nursery schools These schools are those maintained by the local authority - the local authority is the employer
Foundation schools Foundation schools, trust schools which are foundation schools, voluntary aided schools and foundation special schools The governing body of the school is the employer
Academies The proprietor of the academy is the employer

When a maintained school converts to an academy or a foundation school, the employer for automatic enrolment purposes changes and the local authority is no longer the employer.

A new employer - the academy proprietor or the governing body – is created. It becomes the employer for automatic enrolment, and has legal duties as such.

Similarly, when a foundation school converts to an academy, the same thing happens. In this case, the governing body is no longer the employer and the academy proprietor becomes the new employer instead.

If you’re still unsure whether the employer has changed as a result of a school converting, the employment contracts or statements of particulars of employment you have for your staff should clearly identify the name of the employer.

What does this mean for automatic enrolment duties?

When a school converts to an academy or foundation school and the employer changes for automatic enrolment, it means that the automatic enrolment duties start again from the beginning. As a result, the employer gets a new staging date or duties start date.

The date the legal duties start depends on whether the school’s conversion is completed:

  • before 1 October 2017, or
  • on or after 1 October 2017

A new duties start date or staging date means that the employer’s re-enrolment duties come into effect three years on from that date - not three years from the old employer’s staging date.

The new employer’s legal duties for automatic enrolment begin on its staging date, not on the date that staff were transferred to the new employer. Read more

If a new employer was created by a school converting between 1 April 2012 and 30 September 2017, the new employer will have a staging date. This staging date is between 1 May 2017 and 1 February 2018, depending on when staff were first paid, after the school’s conversion.

The new employer’s legal duties for automatic enrolment begin on its staging date, not on the date that all staff were transferred to the new employer.

Use our duties checker to find out your staging date and work out what you need to do.

Staff will usually transfer under the transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations (TUPE).

Under a TUPE transfer there is some protection of pension rights for staff. These are separate legal requirements to automatic enrolment and must be complied with whether or not the new employer has reached its staging date for automatic enrolment at the time the school’s conversion is completed.

The new employer will have re-enrolment duties approximately three years after its staging date.

If a school conversion creates a new employer on or after 1 October 2017, the legal duties for automatic enrolment begin on the day the first member of staff starts work. Read more

If a school conversion creates a new employer on or after 1 October 2017, the legal duties for automatic enrolment begin on the day the first member of staff starts work.

If you are thinking of converting to a new academy or foundation school you should start preparing early for automatic enrolment. Find out what you must do for automatic enrolment.

Staff will usually transfer under the transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations (TUPE). You must also meet any TUPE requirements arising from the transfer of staff.

The new employer will have re-enrolment duties approximately three years after its duties start date.

Does a school have to complete a new declaration of compliance after it has converted?

The new employer - either the academy proprietor or governing body of the foundation school - must complete its declaration of compliance within five months of the date its legal duties started.

The new employer must complete its declaration even if the old employer, usually the local authority, previously completed a declaration of compliance when it employed the staff. This is still the case even if the local authority continues to administer payroll and other services for the new academy or foundation school.

If you are a local authority, you should not include any staff of the academy or governing body in your re-declaration of compliance once they have been transferred to the new employer.

What if I continue to use the school’s old PAYE scheme?

When the school’s conversion takes place, the new academy or foundation school may decide to continue using the PAYE scheme that it already had in place - or continue to share use of the PAYE scheme of the local authority.

If this is the case, please contact us to tell us that the employer for automatic enrolment has changed. We can then stop any re-enrolment communications being issued and send you guidance about the start of your automatic enrolment duties.

What should I do if I’m still getting letters about the old employer’s re-enrolment duties?

If you set up a new PAYE scheme for the new employer and stop the old PAYE scheme, it may take time for our data to show that the old PAYE scheme has ended.

If you continue to receive communications about re-enrolment for the old employer after all the staff have been transferred away from them, please contact us and we will update our records to stop sending these.

What happens if an academy merges or joins with another academy?

Sometimes an academy may join an existing chain of academy schools. When this happens there are two possible consequences for the employment of its staff:

  • the academy continues to directly employ staff
  • the proprietor of the academy chain begins to employ the staff; that is, the staff are transferred to the academy chain

If you’re unsure which of the two applies, check the employment contracts or statements of particulars of employment for the staff.

If the academy continues to directly employ staff then there is no change in employer, and the legal duties for automatic enrolment will continue to apply as normal.

If the proprietor of the academy chain begins to employ the staff, then the employer for automatic enrolment has changed. The proprietor of the academy chain is now the employer.

Where that proprietor has already reached its staging date, the transferred members of staff should be treated as any other new starter for automatic enrolment. Find out more about an employer’s ongoing duties.

Where the proprietor has not yet reached its staging date, these transferred members of staff will be included with all other members of staff, and the new employer’s legal duties for automatic enrolment will not start until the staging date.

If the old employer continues to receive communications about re-enrolment from us, please let us know that the employer for automatic enrolment has changed, and we will update our records to stop sending these.

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