Pension Auto-Enrolment

The Government introduced rules for all employers, including the University, to encourage staff to save for retirement through automatic membership of a pension scheme.

This does not affect staff who are already a member of a pension scheme. However, it does require the University to automatically enrol in a pension scheme any employee or worker who is not already a member of a pension scheme and who meets certain eligibility criteria. This may include you, even if you have previously opted out of USS or OSPS. 

Who is affected?

These requirements apply to everyone (whether existing staff or new joiner) who is employed by the University or who has a contract to work or provide services personally. This includes University employees of all types as well as short-term casual staff, casual or irregular teachers, personal services consultants, invigilators and examiners. 

The requirements do not apply to anyone working for another employer e.g. agency workers, contract service workers, inward secondees and self-employed contractors.

How does auto-enrolment affect me?

Already a pension member?

If you are already a member of one of the University pension schemes, auto-enrolment will not affect you whilst you remain an active member.

Not a pension member?

If you are not in a pension scheme, you have the right to ask to join a scheme and the University may enrol you in the appropriate scheme. This applies to all employees, including those on variable hours contracts and those who have been re-employed after taking their full pension, and to all casual and other workers contracted to the University.

If you are not a pension member and have not previoiusly been auto-enrolled, the University will have a duty to assess you for automatic enrolment. This assessment will take place monthly. If you are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age, have earnings of more than £833 a month, based on 2015/16 thresholds, (or the equivalent if you are paid other than monthly) and work or ordinarily work in the UK, the University must automatically enrol you in a qualifying pension scheme. The University must do this even if you have previously opted out of a University pension scheme. You, and the University, will start to pay contributions to the pension.

If you are auto-enrolled in this way, you can choose to opt out, but you must do this within one month if you wish to receive a refund of contributions. If you do choose to opt out, the University has a duty to re-enrol you every three years if you remain eligible.

As the University and Colleges are separate employers, they must apply their auto-enrolment duties separately to the respective elements of joint or multiple appointments. If you hold multiple contracts within the University you will, as a general rule, be assessed for auto-enrolment separately under each contract. This means that you are likely to receive separate letters for each contract and will have to take separate action, including if you wish to opt out, in response to each.

Marie Curie researchers should find out more about their pension contributions from their departmental administrator.

University Pension Schemes

If you ask to join a pension scheme, or if the University enrols you automatically, you will be enrolled in one of the following schemes. Each one is a qualifying pension scheme, which means that it meets or exceeds the government’s standards. 

If you are an employee, the University will continue to offer membership, as appropriate, of:

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

This is a national scheme for employees on academic and academic-related scales of pay (generally grades 6 and above).

The University of Oxford Staff Pension Scheme (OSPS)

This is the University’s scheme for those of its employees who are on scales of pay for support staff (generally grades 1 – 5).

For casual and other workers, the University offers membership of:

National Employment Savings Trust (NEST)

This is a national scheme, specifically set up to support auto-enrolment.

The University also participates in other schemes, such as the National Health Service Pension Scheme (NHSPS), in respect of employees who meet certain requirements.

Further information

For more details on auto-enrolment, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions section.

General information on pensions and saving for later life can be found on the Government Pensions website.

Further information on the specific University pension schemes may be obtained from:

USS

OSPS

NEST