Automatic enrolment if you earn £10,000 a year or less

Only workers earning more than £10,000 – and aged between 22 and State Pension age – will be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by their employers. But if you earn less, you still have the right to join a workplace pension. You might also qualify for pension contributions from your employer.

If you earn less than £6,240

You won’t be automatically enrolled into your employer’s workplace pension scheme.

Are you aged at least 16 and under 75? Then you can ask your employer to give you access to a pension to save into. They have to do this – and to arrange for you to join. But they don’t have to contribute to it.

If you earn between £6,240 and £10,000 (inclusive)

You won’t be automatically enrolled into your employer’s workplace pension scheme. But you have the right to opt in.

If you join the scheme – provided you’re aged between 16 and 74 – you’ll qualify for the minimum level of employer contributions as well.

Earnings threshold

The ‘earnings threshold’ is £10,000 a year – but you will be assessed for eligibility at each pay period.

The earnings threshold will be pro-rated. This means the actual earnings threshold amount will differ if you’re paid monthly, four-weekly, fortnightly or weekly.

As you’re assessed for eligibility at each pay period, you might be automatically enrolled if your earnings increase – even just for a short time.

For example, if you’re paid monthly, you’ll be deemed to meet the earnings threshold if your monthly earnings reach at least £833. If you’re paid weekly, you’ll be deemed to meet the earnings threshold if your weekly earnings reach at least £192.

How earnings thresholds change depending on when you’re paid

Hardly anyone is paid annually. But unfortunately, you can’t just divide £10,000 by the frequency you’re paid to find out if you’re eligible. This is because the thresholds are slightly different, depending on whether you’re paid weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or monthly.

Earnings are assessed in the regular period over which a worker is paid – this is known as the ‘pay reference period’. The relevant thresholds are shown in the table below:

Earnings thresholds for the current tax year (before tax earnings)

Pay reference period (how often you’re paid)
2021-22
Annual
Weekly
Fortnightly
Four-weekly
Monthly

Lower level of qualifying earnings

£6,240

£120

£240

£480

£520

Earnings trigger for automatic enrolment

£10,000

£192

£384

£768

£833

If you earn below the lower level of qualifying earnings, you won’t be automatically enrolled. You can join if you want to, but your employer doesn’t have to contribute.

If you earn on or above the trigger level, you’ll be automatically enrolled. If you earn below this level but above the lower level of qualifying earnings, you won’t be automatically enrolled. But you can join if you want to, and your employer will have to pay in as well.

If your pay is very close to the threshold, or varies payday to payday, talk to your employer to see what category you fall into.

What happens when my earnings or my age changes?

Your employer should have assessed you on the date their automatic enrolment duties started or when you joined the company. If you’re not automatically enrolled, you’ll be re-assessed at each further pay period. So it’s possible that you might not be automatically enrolled initially. But an increase in earnings at a later date might trigger you being automatically enrolled.

If you were under the age of 22 when you joined the company, you’ll be automatically enrolled when you reach this age, if you earn above the trigger of £10,000 a year.

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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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