Oct 2021

5

Report calls for pension reform

On the 17th September, a new report, Population Aging and the Public Finances in Ireland, was published by Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe. It highlighted the need for significant structural reforms to address the aging population, longer life expectancy, and the associated age-related expenditure. It found that current revenue increases will not be sufficient and suggested that policy reforms such as linking the Stage Pension Age to life expectancy will be required.

What are the report’s findings?

At the moment, two major factors are contributing to a worrying financial situation for the state and for those most vulnerable in our society. One, people are living longer. Life expectancy is expected to grow by three and a half years between 2019 and 2050. Two, similar to other developed countries, the birth rate is expected to fall. Such developments will have a substantial impact on the age-profile of Ireland’s population. It is predicted that 8% of people in Ireland will be aged 80 or over in 2050, up from 3% in 2019. This means that there will be fewer people of a working age generating the necessary funds to support an older population.

As a result of the aging population, the report expects the GDP (Gross domestic product) to slow relative to current growth rates and that the associated costs of an older population will be €17 billion higher than in 2019, in today’s terms. A slowdown in output growth will impact government revenue which in turn will create considerable pressure to fund this increase in demographically sensitive expenditure such as the state pension. It states, that without reforms, this will push the public finances onto “an unsustainable path”.

Proposed policy reform:

It is proposed that the most important reform to tackle the estimated cost of an aging population is to increase the State Pension Age (SPA), aligning it with the increased life-expectancy. However, in December of last year, the Social Welfare Act 2020 was signed into law preventing the previous plans to increase the SPA from 66 to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. The report estimates that the cost of keeping the SPA at 66 will be €50 billion over the long term.

This publication is part of the Finance Department’s submission to the Commision on Pensions which was set up in November 2020 in order to examine sustainability and eligibility issues in respect to the State Pension and the Social Insurance Fund.

The Pensions Commision only recently submitted their report to Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys in early September. It is understood, but not yet confirmed, that the report recommends that the SPA rise in quarterly increments to 67 between 2028 and 2031, before gradually increasing to 68 by 2039.

What about auto enrolment?

The report published by the Minister of Finance included no mention of auto enrolment. Looking at the UK, auto enrolment was introduced in 2012 to address similar issues facing Ireland; lack of retirement savings, increasing life expectancy, and the long-term repercussions that this would have on their State Benefits system. The Pensions Act 2008 requires all UK employers to offer workplace pension schemes and to automatically enrol eligible workers into the scheme.

In February of this year, it was announced that the proposed auto enrolment scheme in Ireland would be delayed yet again, until at least 2023. The auto enrolment scheme would see workers automatically enrolled into a pension scheme, with contributions made by the employer, the employee, and the state. The most recent figures from 2019 showed that only 30% of all employees are making regular contributions to their pensions and the gross income point at which most employees make a pension contribution is between €40,000 and €45,000. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue, creating a growing divide between who are saving for retirement and who cannot.

Auto enrolment is undoubtedly necessary to address serious vulnerabilities in Ireland’s existing pension model. Cróna Clohisey, the Public Policy Lead with Chartered Accountants Ireland, previously spoke in March 2021, on how the SPA should not be changed without parallel reform to private pensions. Commenting on the issue, she said “Introducing auto-enrolment is the obvious answer to what is now a huge problem. This scheme will incentivise people to save and that in turn will reduce the reliance on the state pension”.

To learn about auto enrolment and how Thesaurus Payroll Manager will cater for it speak to a member of our team today. 

Posted byÁine CourtneyinAuto Enrolment


May 2021

26

Automatic enrolment delayed until 2023

The introduction of automatic enrolment in Ireland will be delayed until at least 2023. The scheme's purpose is for workers to supplement their state pension as a shocking 40% of private sectors workers rely solely on the state pension to fund their retirement. This will mean by law, that employers will have to enrol their employees in a workplace pension scheme. Auto enrolment was supposed to be introduced at the beginning of 2021. It’s now looking like it will be rolled out in 2023, but it could be extended yet again as the full details for auto enrolment are still being ironed out by the government.

How will auto enrolment work in Ireland?

During the phased roll out of auto enrolment, employees will be required to make initial minimum default pension contributions of 1.5% of their qualifying earnings, increasing by 1.5 percentage points every 3 years thereafter to a maximum contribution of 6% at the beginning of year 10.

Employers will be required to make matching (tax deductible) pension contributions on behalf of the employee at the specified contribution rate to help fund their retirement. This means that employees, employers and the State will each contribute to the member’s account.

What are the criteria?

Employees between the ages of 23 and 60 who earn €20,000 or more per annum (across all employments) will be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme with no waiting period. All employees outside of these criteria may opt in themselves. Mandatory auto enrolment requirements won’t apply to any employee who is already a member of a pension scheme, provided the scheme meets certain minimum standards. Automatic enrolment will be an earnings-related workplace savings system where employees will retain the freedom to opt out if they wish.

Can I prepare for auto enrolment?

It's important that employers understand what they need to do and prepare early. Employers should educate themselves on auto enrolment and familiarise themselves with the terminology. Businesses may need to think about one-off costs to set up an auto enrolment pension scheme, as well as the ongoing cost of paying money into the scheme and managing the process.

If you are a new business and employing staff for the first time after auto enrolment is introduced, your legal duties for automatic enrolment will begin on the day your first member of staff starts work. There will be guidance and support available to ensure that businesses comply with auto enrolment.

Will my payroll software cater for this?

If you’re fortunate enough to use a good payroll software then this will handle and automate the administrative duties for you. With Thesaurus Payroll Manager, there will be no additional charge for any of the auto enrolment features. All of this will be included as part of your payroll software package, which also includes free customer phone and email support.

At Thesaurus Software, we already experienced the rollout of auto enrolment in the UK, with our UK payroll product, BrightPay. Auto enrolment phased in at the beginning of October 2012, starting with the larger UK companies. Every company in the UK enrolled employees into a pension scheme by 1st February 2018. BrightPay UK introduced auto enrolment features which enabled users to automate and simplify the entire process, so we are already experts in the field and well prepared for the rollout in Ireland.

The extension of auto enrolment beyond 2023 looks very possible as the target market for auto enrolment is younger, lower-paid workers in sectors such as Wholesale and Retail Trade, Accommodation and Food Services, Construction and Industry. These sectors have been worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding an extra cost to these employers and employees who have been living off the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) for the past year, to suddenly start paying into a pension fund, seems unfair and unlikely.

 

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Posted byHolly McHughinAuto Enrolment


Nov 2019

28

Auto enrolment is finally on its way

Today we’re living longer and healthier lives than ever before! This is fantastic! Right? Well… sorry to be Captain Buzzkill, but as a nation, with this increase in life expectancy our saving habits haven’t caught up. Put simply, we’re not saving enough for our retirement! It’s no good having all those extra years if you haven’t even got enough to go to bingo with the girls every weekend.

Many people are planning on relying solely on their State pension, but this would lead to a serious decline in the standard of living. Never fear, however, the Irish government is here. To combat this issue, the State is bringing in an automatic enrolment system where all employers will be required to enrol their employees into a workplace pension scheme and contribute towards the employee’s pension pot.

The government has spent the last few years ironing out all the details and, hallelujah... the day is nigh. A date has finally been announced by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and from 2022 pension auto enrolment will be rolled out on a phased basis.

Under this new system, an employee will be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme. It will apply to all employees aged between 23 and 60, earning more than €20,000 a year and not already in a workplace pension scheme. To begin with, the employee contribution will equal 1% of their salary, increasing to 6% of their salary in their tenth year of employment.

For employees, the best bit is that your employer will be required to contribute the same percentage, so after 6 years, workers and employers will be saving a combined 12% of salary into a pension. The State will then add a further 2% contribution which makes a whopping total of 14% of salary with a cap of €75,000. That will be more than enough to buy two double books and a couple of cans of Sprite at the bingo on weekends!

So how automatic is automatic? Well, as an employee, it’s completely automated. That’s the beauty. However, if you’re an employer, then you’ll likely have certain mandatory auto enrolment duties to complete. Such as:

  • Choosing a workplace pension scheme
  • Calculating who needs to be enrolled in a pension scheme 
  • Informing employees about their rights 
  • Calculating contributions and showing them on a payslip 
  • Completing a declaration of compliance to inform the Irish government that you have complied with the law

Wow, that actually sounds like a lot of work I say as I wipe the sweat from my top lip. Not if you’re a Thesaurus Software customer! Thesaurus Payroll Manager is ahead of the auto enrolment curve and will automate all of these pesky auto enrolment tasks to ensure the transition is seamless. The best part is that they won’t charge you anything extra for any auto enrolment features.

Auto Enrolment in Ireland Auto Enrolment Processes More Auto Enrolment Blogs

Posted byAoibheann ByrneinAuto Enrolment


Jul 2019

11

Auto Enrolment: More payroll changes on the way

The government has announced major changes to the pensions system in Ireland, including State, private and public service pensions, which aims to address Ireland’s significant retirement savings gap.

The Taoiseach confirmed that the Government's key goals are to "create a fairer and simpler contributory pension system where a person's pension outcome reflects their social insurance contributions, and in parallel, create a new and necessary culture of personal retirement saving in Ireland".

From 2020, a new State pension system will come into place based on a ‘total contributions approach’ (TCA) where a person’s lifetime contribution will more closely match the benefit they receive. Under TCA, a person's contributory pension will be proportionate to the contributions they make, with fair regard for periods of child rearing, full time caring, and periods in receipt of social protection payments.

Although the State pension will be reformed and will remain at the core of the pension system in Ireland, a new retirement savings system is still needed to supplement the State pension.

Minister Regina Doherty said: “It is increasingly evident that most Irish workers are not saving enough, or indeed at all, for their retirement years. Many people will be faced with a serious reduction in their living standards when they retire – a fall in income they clearly do not want.”

This new 'Automatic Enrolment' retirement savings system will be introduced from 2022 to support and encourage personal savings provision. It is intended that employee savings in this scheme will be supported by employer and State contributions.

Under this system, workers will be ‘automatically enrolled’ into a workplace pension scheme with the option to opt-out, should they choose to do so. However, looking at the international experience of similar systems, for example in the UK, once enrolled, workers tend to remain in the scheme.

Automatic enrolment is a natural extension of the payroll process, making more sense for employers to process the majority of these duties within their payroll software. At BrightPay, we have experienced the rollout of auto enrolment in the UK first hand, where we introduced auto enrolment features which enabled users to automate and simplify the entire process.

Thesaurus Payroll Manager will be able to seamlessly cater for Auto Enrolment without any additional costs to the software, and also includes free phone and email support.


BrightPay Payroll Software | Thesaurus Payroll Manager

Posted byRachel HynesinAuto Enrolment


Apr 2018

16

Auto Enrolment: A Roadmap for Pensions Reform

The government has announced major changes to the pensions system in Ireland,
including State, private and public service pensions, which aims to address Ireland’s significant retirement savings gap.

The Taoiseach confirmed that the Government's key goals are to "create a fairer and simpler contributory pension system where a person's pension outcome reflects their social insurance contributions, and in parallel, create a new and necessary culture of personal retirement saving in Ireland".

From 2020, a new State pension system will come into place based on a ‘total contributions approach’ (TCA) where a person’s lifetime contribution will more closely match the benefit they receive. Under TCA, a person's contributory pension will be proportionate to the contributions they make, with fair regard for periods of child rearing, full time caring, and periods in receipt of social protection payments.

Although the State pension will be reformed and will remain at the core of the pensions system in Ireland, a new retirement savings system is still needed to supplement the State pension.

Minister Regina Doherty said: “It is increasingly evident that most Irish workers are not saving enough, or indeed at all, for their retirement years. Many people will be faced with a serious reduction in their living standards when they retire – a fall in income they clearly do not want.”

This new 'Automatic Enrolment' retirement savings system will be introduced from 2022 to support and encourage personal savings provision. It is intended that employee savings in this scheme will be supported by employer and State contributions.

Under this system, workers will be ‘auto enrolled’ into a workplace pension scheme with the option to opt-out, should they choose to do so. However, looking at the international experience of similar systems, for example in the UK, once enrolled workers tend to remain in the scheme.

Automatic enrolment is a natural extension of the payroll process, making more sense for employers to process the majority of these duties within their payroll software. At Thesaurus Payroll Software, we have experienced the rollout of auto enrolment in the UK first hand, where we introduced auto enrolment features which enabled users to automate and simplify the entire process.

Thesaurus Payroll Software costs €149 + VAT per tax year for a single employer licence, and also includes free phone and email support. Before the introduction of auto enrolment, payroll administrators will be faced with even more changes to the payroll process with the introduction of PAYE Modernisation in January 2019. Thesaurus Payroll Software will be able to seamlessly cater for both PAYE Modernisation and Auto Enrolment without any additional costs to the software.

Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software

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Posted byRachel HynesinAuto Enrolment


Nov 2017

2

Auto Enrolment Planned for Ireland by 2021

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Government will publish a five year roadmap for pension reform before the end of the year. This will include the introduction of an auto-enrolment pension scheme for private sector workers, two-thirds of whom currently have no occupational pension to supplement their state pension. The first payments are expected to be made into new individually held funds by 2021.

He said the government would “work closely and consult with employers” in designing the new scheme. The Minister for Employment & Social Protection Regina Doherty, said that there will be no discrimination in the new auto-enrolment pension scheme proposed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
“You can’t discriminate somebody that’s earning 20 grand to somebody that’s earning 40 grand,” said Minister Regina Doherty.

“But it’s always going to be based on the percentage, so whatever percentage you put in, the employer will put in a percentage and the State will put in a percentage, and we have to work out the details as to what that percentage will be.”

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Posted byCaoimhe ByrneinAuto Enrolment


Sep 2017

26

New Automatic Enrolment Pension System to be in place by 2021?

With better living standards and expanding economy, it is without doubt that Irish people are now living longer and we have a much healthier society. At the same time, we need to face the fact that with the Irish population inevitably getting older, there is the prospect that senior citizens will have to stay in employment long after they have passed retirement age. It is therefore absolutely vital to address the funding of the Irish pension system now if we want our pensioners to be well-protected in the future.

To tackle this issue, Brian Hayes MEP has called on Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty to start work on the introduction of an automatic enrolment pension system, whereby all Irish private sector employees would be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme. As Mr Hayes stated, "a road map needs to be put in place for the introduction of an auto-enrolment system for all Irish businesses. The Cabinet needs to make it a priority to ensure that auto-enrolment is put into Irish Law by 2021. This is something that can be done through cross-party agreement."


In 2012, the UK introduced an automatic enrolment system which is working well and providing long-term sustainability. Automatic enrolment systems have also been introduced in Australia and New Zealand, and similar systems exist in the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. These countries are recognised as world leaders in pensions.


Mr Hayes has suggested that Ireland should create its own system, whereby every employee will be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme, into which they should contribute at least 1 per cent of their monthly salary, to be matched by their employer.


Mr Hayes also added, “In Ireland we are far too dependent on our state pension system. We have a very low take up of workplace pension schemes. Less than 40% of Irish workers are covered by a workplace pension scheme. The best way to deal with both of these problems is through an auto-enrolment system which reduces dependency on the state system and ensures people have additional pension pots built up.”


A recent global study called the ‘Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index’ has stated that Ireland's pension system is good but has serious sustainability problems into the future. Elsewhere, Mercer's report found that Ireland will increasingly struggle to afford the provision of a guaranteed pension for everyone, if the current pension system isn’t addressed.




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Posted byAlena AmelyanchukinAuto Enrolment


Mar 2017

29

Auto enrolment for Ireland?

The current Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, has, on a number of occasions, mentioned his desire to introduce auto enrolment in Ireland.

This will be a welcome and necessary development as it is unlikely that the current levels of state pension will be sustainable in the medium to long term.

The UK is nearing the end of its auto enrolment roll out and there are, I believe, a number of lessons learnt.

On the face of it, the requirement to enrol an employee into a pension scheme (based on age and earnings), to make deductions/contributions and to allow for opting out, would all appear very straightforward. Not so! Employer guidance extends to many hundreds of pages and the rules are unnecessarily complex.

My first suggestion is to keep it simple. If the minister has his way, auto enrolment may commence around about the same time as Revenue’s Smart PAYE project. This will be a lot to take on board at the one time, particularly if the UK’s auto enrolment rules are anything to go by. Examples of how to make it simpler - link everything to pay date (not pay period) and forego the requirement to apportion.

Next, I would suggest that a common filing standard is adopted at the outset for both enrolments and contributions. This was attempted in the UK, without success. The main problem was the pension companies and their differing systems. Ideally an all encompassing file specification would be mandated and the pension companies would just have to accept. Plus there would need to be common business rules for the various fields in the specification. Lessons learnt here from the SEPA roll out which resulted in similar looking files for the various banks but with very different business rules!

Postponement is a handy feature in the UK system but it does complicate things further. If everything else can be made simple and seamless, then postponement may not be required. Hand in hand with this would be the suggestion that all employees are enrolled no matter what their earnings are and no matter how temporary their employments are for. They would still have the ability to opt out.

Also, the creation of a government backed master trust (similar to NEST in the UK) would further obviate the need for postponement as postponement is generally used to get a pension scheme set up.

In relation to opting out, the opt out window should be linked to the actual pay date of first deduction rather than the auto enrolment date (which itself has many potential definitions) or scheme join date.

Employee communications is another big part of the whole process. The UK communications have evolved and simplified over the last few years and their present format would be fine for Ireland.

Finally, the actual calculation of the pension deduction/contribution should be based on all (taxable) earnings. The UK rules limit the calculation to a portion of the earnings, further increasing its complexity.

The above are my main suggestions and stem from our involvement with the UK system through our UK payroll software, BrightPay, where we have ongoing engagement with employers, accountants, professional bodies, HMRC, the Pensions Regulator, NEST, IFAs and the various pension providers.

Feedback welcome at paul@thesaurus.ie

Posted byPaul ByrneinAuto EnrolmentPayroll Software


Feb 2014

14

What might be coming down the tracks for Irish employers

Here is an article that recently appeared in the online version of Business & Finance and that should be of interest to all Irish employers.

http://businessandfinance.com/whats-coming-down-the-track-for-irish-employers/?ref

 

Posted byPaul ByrneinAuto EnrolmentPayroll SoftwareRTI


Jan 2014

22

Will Ireland ever follow the UK lead and adopt auto enrolment?

Thankfully, we are living longer! This, however, presents a huge challenge for any country’s retirement strategy. Back in 1950, there were 7.2 people aged 20–64 for every person of 65 or over in the OECD countries. This is projected to reduce to 1.8 by 2050. The math is stark. To fund a state pension which pays modern day equivalents to people retiring at 65 will soon become an impossible task. Apart from increasing the already huge tax burden to pay for pensions, there are really only two ways of addressing the problem. One, the retirement age needs to increase and, two, people will need to have private pensions or other incomes to supplement their state pension.

Auto Enrolment addresses the latter. It imposes a legal obligation on employers to enrol their employees in pension schemes and to contribute to these pensions. A deduction is made from the employee’s pay plus the employer contributes as well. Auto Enrolment began in the UK for very large employers in 2012 and is being rolled out to include all employers by 2017. The combined minimum deduction and contribution of 2% is designed to ease employees and employers into the concept but this combined level rises to 8% by 2018.
It should be noted that employee participation is optional. The employer must enrol them but they may subsequently opt out. Therefore, employees who feel that they are otherwise covered (e.g. through rental property and/or other investments) do not have to partake in Auto Enrolment.

The various rules surrounding Auto Enrolment and the structures that need to be put in place are numerous and represent a major undertaking for government, employers and pension companies.

Auto Enrolment (or similar) is an absolute necessity and it is somewhat surprising that Irish plans in this regard are not more advanced.

Posted byPaul ByrneinAuto EnrolmentPayroll Software