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Your client must carry out a formal assessment to ensure eligible staff are automatically enrolled into a pension scheme.

Formal assessment of staff

When your client starts to have duties, they must carry out a formal assessment of their staff to work out their automatic enrolment duties for individual members of staff - see our page on checking who to enrol to find out how to do this.

Once this is done, your client must ensure eligible staff are enrolled by sending their pension scheme the information they need to make them active members of the scheme. This should be done as quickly as possible.

Staff may wish to join, opt in or opt out of (or leave) a scheme and in each case you’ll need to understand what your client needs to do. For staff who ask to:

  • join a pension scheme – your client must provide a pension scheme for their staff to pay contributions into, but your client doesn’t have to contribute
  • opt into a pension scheme – your client must put them into a pension scheme that can be used for automatic enrolment and pay regular contributions
  • opt out of a pension scheme – your client’s staff who have been enrolled or who have opted in, have the right to opt out within a certain period, and your client must act on this request (see our page on opting out).

Duties for new employers without PAYE schemes

Employers who take on their first member of staff on or after 1 October 2017 have duties from the day their first worker begins employment.

If their staff earn £120 per week (£520 a month) or below, HMRC may not require them to set up a PAYE scheme.

Your client does still have certain automatic enrolment duties, however, and must start to complete them as soon as they employ their first member of staff:

  • they must write to their staff to tell them how automatic enrolment applies to them
  • if their staff then ask in writing to be put into a pension scheme, your client must set this up for them but they do not have to pay into it

When your client starts paying a member of staff more than £120 per week, they must set up a PAYE scheme with HMRC. They must also assess their members of staff to work out if they need to be put into a pension scheme that your client must also pay into.

After your client has set up their PAYE scheme, we'll write to them and ask them to complete a declaration of compliance, which is where they tell us how they've met their duties, by a specific date.

To find out more about the duties your client will need to complete if they become a new employer, please refer to our page on duties for new employers.

Giving notice

If a member of staff gives notice, or the employer gives them notice, to leave employment before the employer has completed the automatic enrolment process, the employer has a choice whether to enrol them or not.

Postponement on your client's duties start date

Your client may use postponement on their duties start date to delay the automatic enrolment assessment for some or all of their staff for up to three months. For example, if your client knows a staff member will be leaving within three months of the start of their legal duties, your client may apply postponement to that individual. This means your client won’t need to assess this staff member to identify what duties they have until the last day of the postponement period, at which point your client must enrol any staff members who are eligible. Read more information about postponement.

If your client is using postponement and a member of staff requests to be enrolled during the postponement period, they must be put into a pension scheme.

Ongoing responsibilities

Once staff are active members of a pension scheme, there are ongoing responsibilities for the employer, such as ensuring contributions are paid on time and that any notices relating to staff opting in and joining or opting out are processed and accurate records maintained. See knowing your client's ongoing duties for more information.

What letters are sent to my clients from TPR?

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) sends out letters and emails to employers to support them with their automatic enrolment duties. These letters form a series of communications which are sent to your clients during the automatic enrolment process, helping them to understand their duties and guiding them through what to do next.

You may find it useful to familiarise yourself with these, to help your clients understand what do to and by when.

Advanced guidance

This resource may help if your client has more detailed questions on the above: