Workplace, personal and stakeholder pensions
In general, Northern Ireland’s pensions policy and legislation operate in line with corresponding pension provision in Great Britain. In effect, there is a single system of pensions across the UK. Additionally, the pensions regulatory regime, for example, the Pensions Regulator, the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pension Protection Fund, operates UK wide.
Starting with the largest employers first, since October 2012 employers are required to automatically enrol eligible workers into a qualifying pension scheme, if they are not already in one. Since 1 October 2017, new businesses will no longer be given a date, known as a staging date, when their automatic enrolment duties start. Instead, they will have duties as soon as they employ someone for the first time. Before 1 October 2017, employers were given a staging date, the last of which will be reached in February 2018.
Both workers and employers pay into the pension, and the Government also contributes in the form of tax relief.
Automatic enrolment helps to address the issues that prevent people from saving into a pension scheme, such as:
- pensions saving being complicated and confusing;
- people simply not getting around to it;
- a lack of suitable pension products being available for people on low to moderate incomes; and
- lack of employer pension provision, particularly in smaller firms.
The Pensions Regulator gives employers guidance and tools to help them to comply with their automatic enrolment duties.
Contracting-out has ended
The Pensions Act 2014 and the Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 introduced a new State Pension in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for people reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016. The new scheme replaced the basic and additional State Pension and ended contracting-out and the National Insurance rebate. To assist employers and employees, fact sheets and overviews in relation to the ending of contracting-out prepared by the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs are available from the Gov.UK site at the link provided below. References in the guidance to the Pensions Act 2014 should be taken as including references to the Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.
Statutory Guidance – Occupational and Personal Pensions
Workplace pension information line
Telephone: 0845 600 1268
Text phone: 0845 850 0363
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 6.00 pm
The Money Advice Service website also provides guidance on: