Almost 106,000 working people are not being auto-enrolled into a pension because their earnings come from more than one job and 70% of them are women, research by Citizens Advice reveals.

To qualify for auto-enrolment you need to earn over the  £10,000 a year threshold from a single job.

New analysis by the national charity finds that in total 250,000 have several jobs paying under £10,000 a year- meaning they don’t qualify for auto-enrolment.

But for 2 in 5 of these people the combined income from their jobs exceeds £10,000- but under current rules they still don’t get auto-enrolled into a pension. Women are particularly likely to be affected, with 72,000 missing out.

Auto-enrolment has already helped over 7 million people kick-start a pension and Citizens Advice says the scheme has huge potential to help more people save for a financially secure retirement.

The charity is calling for the government’s auto-enrolment review – due out this year – to look at how the scheme can be extended to those missing out. Under current rules many people who work multiple low-income jobs or who are self-employed are not able to access a workplace pension via auto-enrolment.

The Citizens Advice research also reveals that most employers don’t see pension contributions as a burden to their business, with under 1 in 5 (18%) saying this is one of their key concerns for the future. This is well below those who say they are most worried about finding good staff (44%) and retaining them (36%).

A survey of over 1,100 line managers, senior managers and HR managers in public, private and third sector employers based in England and Wales reveals over two thirds (70%) of employers say they see some benefit of paying pension contributions:

  • 37% say they believe it makes their staff feel more valued.
  • 24% report it boosts morale among their workforce.

  • 13% say they think it makes their staff more productive.

Citizens Advice finds many bosses don’t know enough about future changes. Employers currently pay 0.8% of qualifying earnings into pensions, but this is going to rise to 3% by 2019.

When employers were asked how much they were going to have to pay in 2019, the majority (55%) said they didn’t know. Only 6% know the correct answer, while 39% gave an incorrect response.

Chief executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:

“Too many people are shut out of a workplace pension – despite earning enough to qualify.

“Many people – particularly women – work several part time jobs, which helps them manage  commitments like childcare or study. But while in many cases they earn over £10,000, and pay tax on this combined income, they don’t have access to a workplace pension and miss out on the opportunity to save for their retirement.

“The government needs to seize the opportunity of this year’s auto-enrolment review and use it to pave the way for helping more people get on track with pension savings.

“Employers clearly recognise the value of contributing to workers’ pensions but are fuzzy on the detail of how this will change over coming years. As the review of auto-enrolment progresses and contribution rates increase, changes must be clearly communicated to employers in advance so they can plan for the future of their business.”

Published today the research is the latest in Citizens Advice’s work looking at income security and how employment rights need to keep up with changes to the way people work. It comes the week after Matthew Taylor goes on the first visit of his modern employment review, which looks at issues including employer pension contributions .


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