Under auto-enrolment regulations, there are three occasions when postponement can be used. Postponement allows the employer to delay the date on which they need to auto-enrol their eligible jobholders, by up to three months. This is so that very short term workers don’t need to be enrolled and allows the employer to align contributions to Pay Reference Periods.

The three occasions when postponement can be used are:

Staging postponement
– The employer can delay their duty to assess and enrol their jobholders for up to three months from their staging date.

New employee postponement
– The employer can delay assessment and auto-enrolment of any new joiner for up to three months after the commencement date of their employment.

Eligibility postponement – The employer can delay their duty of auto-enrolment of a worker when they first meet the criteria to be an eligible jobholder for up to three months.


The amount of time the employer chooses to postpone for is known as the ‘postponement period’. The last day of the postponement period is called the ‘deferral date’.

The term ‘postponement’ only relates to the postponement of the employer’s obligation to automatically enrol their eligible jobholders, not the employer’s other duties under auto-enrolment regulations. For example, the employer still has an obligation to allow any of their workers to join or opt in to the Scheme at any time during the postponement period.

It’s not possible to use a combination of different postponement types on a ‘back-to-back’ basis.

The Pensions Regulator’s Detailed Guidance No 3 and 3a (and it’s Appendix A) provides an explanation of postponement and the processes around it.

For a list of our more commonly used terms and phrases please refer to our Glossary.

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