Auto-enrolment – the rationale
Every three years all employers in the UK – including police forces – are obliged to re-enrol workers who have previously opted out back into their pension scheme. The intention behind this is to safeguard pensioners and ensure they are provided for in their old age, and that they don’t overlook the opportunity to build up a pension. For police officers this means those who have opted out of any of the police schemes will be enrolled into the Police Pension Scheme 2015 (2015 CARE scheme).
We are aware that some officers - a relatively low number - have opted out of the schemes - but auto-enrolment means you will be re-enrolled, and if you do not opt out again you will have pension contributions deducted from your salary. Clearly this could cause hardship if the deductions are sizable, and if you are not aware of this possibility and fail to act.
We would not encourage officers to opt out without taking independent financial advice. However if you are certain that you want to remain opted out of the 2015 CARE scheme then the following applies:
- There is an opt-out period. The local employer (force) may specify this, but if not then the statutory provision applies under Rag 9(2) or (3) of the Occupational and Personal Pensions Scheme (Automatic Enrolment) Regulations 2010. This means the opt-out period will start on the date statutory re-enrolment information is given.
- The employer MUST give the following information to the officer:
- A statement that the officer has been or will be re-enrolled
- The date for this
- The value of any pension contributions and a statement that these will be deducted
What should I do if I previously opted out and wish to do so again?
- The contributions must be deducted from the next payroll after re-enrolment.
- If you are certain that you want to continue to opt out you will have to make that known to your employer and pension provider as soon as possible after receiving the statutory letter or email notifying you that you are being re-enrolled (as above).
- You have one month to complete an opt-out notice (provided by the pension provider) and leave the scheme.
- An opt-out notice cannot be submitted prior to you becoming re-enroled.
- After receipt of this, the employer must stop deducting contributions and refund any already deducted since re-enrolment.
Unfortunately for some officers it is possible that the initial deductions from salary will occur before the opt notice is actioned by the force. This will depend on local payroll timetables. If you have previously opted out and intend to do so again, we encourage you to contact your force HR (or scheme administrator) to check the timings.