Auto-enrolment: sharing the contribution requirement – ‘but I didn’t order rice!’

You all know the scenario: a great night out with friends, a few drinks, and a curry at the local tandoori house.

Too many poppadoms, but you force them down anyway, (well I do). Followed by a dish you vaguely recall hearing of before, but was possibly spelt differently, which entices you in by being in the ‘chef’s special recommendation’ section.

A quick glance at the chilli pepper icon next to the dish’s description, to ensure you aren’t going too close to the ring-of-fire end of your tolerance levels, (after all, you’re not a student anymore). Then there’s a quick dance through the vegetable dishes, before yet again adding in an onion bhaji, and finally you arrive at the breads and rices.

I like a bit of both – and the more syllables the better. Not content with plain naan and plain rice, I always like to see a bit of fried something or other in my rice and a suggestion of raciness in my naan, maybe even cheese. And yes, a large bottle of that tasty Indian beer please as well.

Finally, the main event arrives. It all gets precariously balanced on a table that is way too small and we all share the feisty feast. I worship at the temple of tandoori and love nights out when curry is involved. Until the bill comes. Instead of splitting it evenly, somebody wants to pay less and says ‘but I didn’t order rice’. They only wanted naan.

How exactly does this apply to pensions?


It’s a roaring success, right? Well, it isn’t quite a done deal yet. There are still thousands of businesses yet to stage in 2017. Then there will be an ongoing raft of new businesses to join the ranks every year thereafter. Plus, we have the increase in minimum contributions from 2018.


When we all scoured over the initial green paper, grim predictions of about 20-40% opt-out rates polluted the industry’s media. How refreshing it was to note that in most cases opt-outs were way below this, and even below 10% in many cases.

So why read on?

It’s all good, isn’t it? Well, my fear is that when the employee contribution jumps to 3% (with the employer contribution rising to 2%), in April 2018, we may see a spike in opt-out and leaver levels. When the employee contribution jumps to 5% (employer 3%), in April 2019, this is likely to rise even higher.

What’s wrong with splitting the bill?

All decent employers now see the value of pensions, and only a few believe that a combined sum of 2% will make much of a difference. The best employers have always at least matched their employee contributions. However, in April 2018, employers will need to have run a pretty effective communication and engagement programme, to ensure those paying in are not shocked by their contributions going up threefold. So wouldn’t it resonate even better with employees, if the employer matched their contributions all the way through phasing – a 2.5% match in April 2017 (5% total) and a 4% match in April 2018 (8% total)?

Come on employers, why not rise above the rice/naan conundrum and properly back your workplace pension scheme. Everyone likes to do a bit of sharezees to make the maths fair and easy when the bill arrives!


This article was first published with REBA on 9 February 2017.



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