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15th July 2012

New laws prevent employers restricting pension scheme membership

New laws came into force this month, intended to protect the rights of workers to be members of their employer’s auto-enrolment pension scheme.

The most important point for employers to note is that the law applies now, regardless of the date on which an employer needs to comply with the new auto-enrolment requirements.

The new laws apply if an employer takes any action for the sole or main purpose of inducing a worker to cease, or opt out of, membership of any scheme which the employer is operating to comply with the auto-enrolment requirements. Workers are also given protection from suffering any detriment at work, as a result of their decision to remain in such a pension scheme. If an employer treats a worker unfairly because the worker refuses to opt out of the employer’s pension scheme, the worker can enforce their rights in an employment tribunal.

Employers will also have to have the provisions in mind when recruiting new workers. Recruitment processes cannot make any reference to an individual’s success being dependent on the individual opting out of the employer’s auto-enrolment pension scheme.

Confused about auto-enrolment?

Whether you have not yet thought about how you need to comply with the new auto-enrolment duties, or are still getting to grips with the new requirements, recently published guidance may be of assistance. The Pensions Regulator and Department for Work and Pensions recently published updated guidance and ‘templates’ which employers can use to communicate with their workers. The information can be accessed at The Pensions Regulator website -

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers.aspx

For further information, please contact Anita North on anitanorth@hewitsons.com or on 01604 233233.

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