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What’s a qualifying pension scheme?

Not all pension schemes are suitable for auto-enrolment. The pension scheme you do use needs to meet certain qualifying criteria, which is why it’s referred to as a ‘qualifying pension scheme’.

If you’ve an existing pension scheme and you want to continue using it for auto-enrolment, you’ll need to check that it meets the qualifying criteria.

I’m an employer – when will auto-enrolment affect me?

Your organisation will have a ‘staging date’ – this is when you need to start meeting your auto-enrolment duties. This is the date you have to work out which of your employees you must put into a pension scheme that can be used for auto- enrolment. Your staging date depends on the size of your largest PAYE scheme as at 1 April 2012. The Pensions Regulator will have written to you around 12 months ahead of your staging date.

All organisations which existed before 1 April 2012 have now passed their staging date. Employers who set up a new PAYE scheme between 1 April 2012 and 30 September 2017 are within the final staging phase. These employers will reach their staging date between 1 May 2017 and 1 February 2018, and their staging date will be determined by the date they’ve first paid income to any worker (see the table below)

PAYE income is first payable in respect of any worker  Staging date
From 1 April 2012 up to and including 31 March 2013 1 May 2017
From 1 April 2013 up to and including 31 March 2014 1 July 2017
From 1 April 2014 up to and including 31 March 2015 1 August 2017
From 1 April 2015 up to and including 31 December 2015 1 October 2017
From 1 January 2016 up to and including 30 September 2016 1 November 2017
From 1 October 2016 up to and including 30 June 2017 1 January 2018
From 1 July 2017 up to and including 30 September 2017 1 February 2018