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Can I delay auto enrolment?

Yes, you can use a waiting period to delay the date you need to automatically enrol your workers into NEST and start making contributions. If you choose to use a waiting period, you must let your workers know within six weeks from the staging date or duty start date and also tell them when they’ll be enrolled. Our statutory communication templates are available in Word document format, which makes it easier to copy and paste the content. You can find them in our guides for when setting up your scheme for the first time, when enrolling a new worker and at your re-enrolment date. You don’t need to tell us if you’re using a waiting period. You’ll just need to delay entering details for the members until the waiting period ends.

You’ll need to keep records of any waiting periods for at least six years. Eligible jobholders and workers with the right to opt in can still ask to join during this time. This means you’ll still need to have your scheme set up and ready by your original staging date or duty start date.

You can choose to use a waiting period for up to three months from your staging date or duty start date. Different workers can be assigned different waiting periods of up to three calendar months. The final day of any waiting period you apply can be no later than:

  • three months after the date your employer duties start, or
  • three months after an eligible jobholder’s first day of employment, or
  • three months after a worker first becomes eligible for automatic enrolment.

If any worker asks to join within the waiting period you must enrol them straight away. You’ll need to pay contributions for workers who are enrolled with the enrolment type Opt in. If the worker has the enrolment type Worker Without Qualifying Earnings (WWQE) you are not obliged to pay contributions for them if you don’t want to.

You might want to use a waiting period for a number of reasons, for instance:

  • to synchronise enrolment dates with the start of a pay period. This may be useful if your payroll is based on tax periods
  • if you have seasonal or short-term workers who’ll be with you for less than three months
  • you can run a trial group before the majority are enrolled, by giving a small group of workers an earlier date – but not before your staging date or duty start date.

You can find more information about using waiting periods by visiting The Pensions Regulator website.

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