Your new rights to a company pension

Pension calculator

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No matter what size or type of veterinary, zoo or animal husbandry business you join, from 2018 onwards it is highly likely you will be eligible for automatic enrolment on to a company pension scheme.

If you are just starting out as a vet or veterinary nurse, the idea of a pension may be the last thing on your mind. However, the Government is trying to ensure everyone starts saving for their retirement as soon as they start their career.

Don’t panic that this is going to add a complication to your working life, though, because the work-based pension law and rules on automatic enrolment have made it seamless and easy.

What does my employer need to do?

In a nutshell, by the end of this year, any UK business that employs people must set up a company pension scheme (if it hasn’t got one already). It must then automatically enrol all staff on to the scheme and pay into it regularly via the company payroll system.

An employer makes a contribution of 1% of an employee's salary each month, and the employee does the same. Or, the employee can opt to increase the percentage if he or she wishes. Some employers even choose to cover the employee contribution, as well as their own.

This percentage looks set to increase – probably to 3% – but as it is all done automatically by an employer, the employee doesn’t have to worry about it.

If you start at a veterinary surgery or other workplace and are happy with your existing pension arrangements, it could be you do not want this additional benefit. Therefore, one month after an employer auto enrols you, an option becomes available for you to remove yourself from the system.

Does the legislation cover all veterinary and animal care staff?

Any organisation that employs people, even if it is only one person, has to comply with this legislation.

However, some earning and age limits exist on when auto enrolment becomes applicable to a vet, nurse or animal care staff member.

The law states an “eligible member of staff” is any employee aged between 22 and pensionable. He or she also needs to be earning at least £10,000 per year.

However, it doesn’t matter if you are part-time or casual and your wage fluctuates. If you are the right age, you are eligible for auto enrolment as soon as you earn more than £192 in any one week, or £833 in any one month. That calculation includes any overtime, commission or bonuses included in your pay.

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