Informing employees about their legal rights

Employers are required by law to write to all employees aged between 16 and 75 explaining whether they are eligible to be auto-enrolled and what automatic enrolment into a workplace pension means for them.

All employers are also obliged to give specified information to employees within prescribed time limits, e.g. within a month after an employee becomes eligible for auto-enrolment. Employees being auto-enrolled must be provided with information about what this means for them and their right to opt-out; while those not being auto- enrolled must be told about their right to opt-in to a scheme.

Information must be provided in writing but not merely by displaying a poster or signposting an internet or intranet site, although information can be provided by email. It is an employer’s responsibility to provide correct, complete and timely information even if using a benefit consultant, independent financial adviser, or similar third party to act on the employer’s behalf.

What you cannot say

There are constraints on what employers can advise employees. For example, when informing employees that they have passed the qualifying earnings threshold, employers cannot require them to make investment choices by providing opt-out forms or other advice.

The Pensions Regulator has produced detailed guidelines about the employers’ obligation to provide the right information, to the right people, at the right time – details of this and useful templates for letters to all categories of staff can be found at the Pensions Regulator website: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk.

Any company wishing to make changes to existing retirement provision is obliged to consult with employees and consider their response before making any significant changes to the scheme. Pension fund trustees must also agree, and any change affecting the accrued rights of a member requires his or her agreement.