Contractual v Automatic enrolment - do you understand the differences?

Automatic enrolment means that once an employer has passed their staging date it is required to automatically enrol eligible jobholders into a scheme with effect from the date they become eligible, unless they are already a member of the employer's pension scheme. Both of these schemes meet certain quality requirements.

Contractual enrolment is an alternative approach to enrolment which can be used to meet the employer's obligations under the automatic-enrolment regime, but is contained within a contract of employment and does not depend on the employee being an eligible jobholder for the purposes of auto-enrolment.

What are the advantages of contractual enrolment?

The main advantage for an employer of using contractual enrolment is that it will not be necessary to assess the individual auto-enrolment status of each new employee at the outset of the employment relationship. To avoid enrolling new joiners who are short-term workers or likely to leave employment at an early stage, the employer can also use a period of postponement of up to three months.

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.


Employment law moves at a fast pace. Keeping up to date with changes and developments is a challenge for every HR professional, helps you keep ahead of the game, plan for change and provides tools for solving those workplace dilemmas.


Andrew Chamberlain

Partner - Head of Employment & Chair of the SDE

I am a Partner, the National Head of the Employment Team and the Chair of the Service Delivery Executive (SDE), which is focused on building better solutions for clients.