From October 2012, a duty is being phased in for employers to automatically enroll eligible 'jobholders' (workers) into a qualifying pension scheme. The government is keen to encourage individuals to save for their own retirement rather than relying solely on the state pension, and to make the process of contributing to a pension scheme as easy as possible.

The employers to which this obligation relates, and the date on which an employer must implement the automatic enrolment (the 'staging date'), is determined by the number of employees in an employer's PAYE (pay as you earn) payroll scheme as at 1 April 2012. The earlier staging dates apply to the larger employers, and employers with a large workforce should make sure that they know the staging date timetables. An employer with 10,000 or more employees in its payroll on 1 April 2012 will have a staging date between 1 October 2012 and 1 March 2013 (with the earlier date of 1 October 2012 being reserved for those with a PAYE payroll scheme of 120,000 or more).

This requirement will see certain employers automatically enroll their eligible workers into pre-existing schemes where these meet the requirements of a qualifying scheme or, alternatively, into the National Employment Savings Trust which has been established for the purposes of auto-enrolment. Either way, for a scheme to be qualifying, a certain level of minimum benefits must be provided.

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