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Automatic enrolment duties apply to any staff that are aged 22 to state pension age and earn over £192 a week or £833 a month; they must be put into a pension scheme which your client must contribute towards.

Automatic enrolment duties also apply to your client even if they employ; short-term, seasonal, temporary or other staff who are not on regular hours or incomes, who might not at first meet the above criteria, but your client pays them through a payroll.

Do the duties apply to your client?

Even if your client employs short-term, seasonal, temporary staff or other staff who are not on regular hours or incomes (e.g. fruit pickers, labourers, etc.) and they pay them through a payroll, then automatic enrolment duties will apply to them.

Who does your client need to enrol?

From your client’s duties start date, they must assess their staff to work out who to put into a pension scheme that can be used for automatic enrolment based on their ages and how much they earn. Even if the number of people your client employs varies, or they have fluctuating hours and pay, your client must assess them individually each time they run their payroll.

For more information, see the table on check who to enrol.

When to enrol and pay contributions for staff that work irregular hours or earn flexible incomes

After your client’s duties start date, staff who work irregular hours or earn flexible incomes should be enrolled the first time they earn over the automatic enrolment threshold of £192 a week or £833 per month if paid monthly.

Once staff have been enrolled, the employer must pay regular contributions into their pension scheme. If the staff member's earnings fall below £120 per week or £520 per month, the employer may stop paying contributions unless the rules of the pension scheme they have enrolled into require them to continue. You should check with the pension scheme what their rules are.

What if your client is an employment agency?

If your client is an employment agency supplying staff to other businesses and they are responsible for paying these staff, the agency is the employer and is responsible for fulfilling the automatic enrolment duties relating to these staff.

Which pension scheme should your client choose?

If your client already has a pension scheme for their staff, they should check they can use it for automatic enrolment by contacting their provider. If they can’t, they’ll need to choose a new scheme.

Your client should carefully consider which scheme is best for them and their staff. One thing that a lot of employers with temporary staff have in common is that some of their staff have English as a second language. The pension scheme may offer the option of translating the letters they issue to staff.

Find more information in choose a pension scheme.

What is available to help your client?

Delay working out who to put into a pension scheme

If your client has temporary or short-term staff who won’t be working for them for longer than three months they may decide to postpone assessing them. Your client will not be required to put them into a pension scheme or make contributions to the scheme during the postponement period unless they expressly ask to be put into a scheme.

At the end of the postponement period, your client must enrol any staff who are still working for them if they meet the age and earnings thresholds.

Find more information about postponement.

Use payroll software that supports automatic enrolment

If your client has transient staff with fluctuating earnings then having the right payroll software can really help. Most software will automatically assess staff 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 client’s needs.

For more information, see check records and payroll processes.

Example scenarios

Royster Farms has employed 20 fruit pickers for the summer strawberry season. Most of the temporary staff are students aged between 16 and 20 and are working for a period of 10 weeks. Overseeing the picking season are 5 other farm workers who are employed on a long-term casual basis, they are aged over 22 but under state pension age, earn more than £192 a week and are from other countries around Europe. As Royster Farms pays their staff on a weekly basis they will need to assess each person individually on the weekly payroll run.

  • they will need to enrol the 5 migrant farm workers as they are over 22 and earn over £192 a week. Royster Farms will also need to make contributions into the pension scheme for those staff. Depending on the percentage of employer contributions to the scheme, Royster Farms may also need to deduct contributions from their staff’s pay. Once they have been put into a scheme, any of those enrolled will have a period of one month to write to Royster Farms to let them know that they want to leave the scheme.
  • for the other 20 fruit pickers, Royster Farms can use postponement. They must write to them to let them know, but they do not need to enrol them into the scheme during the postponement period unless any of these students ask to be put into a pension scheme and meet the criteria to do so.
  • Fiona is 32, works on a full time basis and earns over £833 a month. She has been enrolled into a pension scheme
  • Paulo is 28 and also earns over £833 a month, he was put into a scheme but he chose to write to his employer to let them know that he wanted to leave the scheme as he was trying to save all his earnings to buy a house
  • Jenny is 23 and is working on a temporary contract. Curlilocks has decided to postpone assessing Jenny for three months. If she stays for more than the 3 months, Curlilocks will need to assess her again and enrol her into a scheme as she earns over £192 a week.
  • Stella is 37 has been enrolled into a pension scheme. As she has family commitments, she chooses to work on a more flexible basis. She is paid weekly and her hours and earnings vary each week. Curlilocks will need to assess her earnings each week and may need to make the contributions to her pensions based on her weekly earnings.