Ireland is on the brink of a significant transformation in its retirement savings paradigm, as the government prepares to implement an automatic enrolment system for workers without pensions.
The auto-enrolment system is scheduled to be introduced in the second half of 2024. This marks a pivotal moment in Ireland’s approach to retirement planning, as it endeavours to address the pension gap by ensuring that a larger segment of the workforce is covered.
Employees falling within the age bracket of 23 to 60, not currently enrolled in a pension plan, and earning an annual income of €20,000 or more will be automatically enrolled. Those earning less than €20,000 or outside the age range have the option to voluntarily join the pension plan if they are not already part of an existing scheme.
Both employees and employers will be required to contribute to the pension plan, together with a modest contribution from the government. The contribution rates are structured as follows:
– First three years: Employee and employer contribute 1.5% each, with an additional 0.5% from the government.
– Years four to six: Contribution rate increases to 3% from both employee and employer, with a maintained government contribution of 0.5%.
– Years seven to nine: Contribution rate further rises to 4.5% from both parties, with the government contributing 0.5%.
– Beyond ten years: The contribution rate peaks at 6% from both employee and employer, with the government’s contribution remaining at 0.5%.
Once enrolled, employees must remain in the plan for at least six months. After this period, they have the option to leave in the seventh or eighth month. Specific circumstances may allow for the cessation or suspension of contributions. However, employees will be automatically re-enrolled after two years if they remain eligible for the scheme.
Employer Contribution Cap:
Employers will match employee contributions, but the maximum contribution will be capped at €80,000 of earnings. This implies that, for the first three years, the maximum annual employer contribution is €1,200. In the event that an individual earns over €80,000, employer and government contributions will not apply for income over the €80,000 threshold.
Job Changes and ‘Pot-Follows-the-Member’:
Employees transitioning between jobs will not be required to change pension schemes. The ‘pot-follows-the-member’ principle ensures continuity, allowing individuals with multiple employments to consolidate their pension savings into one unified ‘pension pot.’
As Ireland prepares to roll out its auto-enrolment pension scheme, it is essential for both employees and employers to grasp the intricacies of the impending changes.