Getting your workplace pension scheme started

If you're an employer, then you'll know that it's essential that you assess your workforce and provide a workplace pension scheme, if you have any qualifying employees. Here we'll cover everything you'll need to be prepared to do to run your pension scheme, both now and in the future.

The good news is that our online administration platforms are all set up to help you keep up to date with many of the commonest pension-administration tasks and record-keeping requirements. And some automated tasks will run for you in the background. 

On this page you'll find:

Your duties start date and your first Declaration of Compliance

The first thing to be aware of is that the clock is ticking - you have a duties start date and this is the date your first eligible member starts work. This date can't be changed, and it means that you now have six weeks to write to your employees and enrol them.

At this early stage, you might find it useful to review the Declaration of Compliance checklist from The Pensions Regulator. Although you have five months to return this (and must do so within that time), it can be really helpful to fill it in along the way as and when you are able to.

Setting up and keeping records

As you prepare to start running your pension scheme, you'll need to set up your record-keeping activity too. You need to keep records on your employees and your pension scheme so that you can show them to the regulator if you're asked to. There are two kinds:

  1. Employee records
    Names, National Insurance number, opt-in/opt-out notice and joining notice.
  2. Pension scheme records
    Scheme name, address and reference number.

Most of these are formal records and need to be kept for at least six years - apart from opt-outs (see below) which are for kept for four years.

About auto-enrolment and re-enrolment

The easiest and most cost-effective way to get your employees on board and to run your workplace pension scheme is through auto-enrolment.

You can find out everything about it on our About auto-enrolment page, including how to assess your workforce, and how to enrol those employees who are eligible.

You'll also need to be ready to review your workforce regularly to ensure everyone who should be enrolled is in your scheme. You'll need to carry out re-enrolment too when the time comes - this has to be done every three years. And if anyone wants to opt out of the scheme, you'll need to process these requests within a month of receiving them. You can find all the details on our Re-enrolment page.

Assessment for eligibility isn't a one-off; you need to check regularly to see if any of your employees have recently become eligible to join the pension scheme. This means keeping an eye on their earnings and age. You'll also need to assess any new employees for eligibility.

Getting ready to make payments

You’ll need to be prepared to make payments into your pension scheme, so as part of the preparation stage, it’s a good idea to research the amounts of the contributions needed, and how these are paid. You can find these on our dedicated pages:

We’ll just review the basic administrative side of things here; this will help you plan to organise the money and amend payroll systems in advance of making your first payments.

When it comes to contributions, there are two kinds to be aware of:

  1. Employer contribution – this is the amount you pay as an employer, which you put into the workplace pension on behalf of each one of your eligible members.
  2. Employee contribution – this is the amount you calculate and deduct from each eligible member’s salary.


As you set up your pension scheme, you’ll have to decide on the contribution rates. This is the amount both you and your members need to pay into the pension scheme. These need to meet or be above the minimum levels which are set by the regulator. You can find out about the minimum levels on our Auto-enrolment contributions page.

(If you happen to be searching for information online, you may find references to phasing and staging. Be aware that some of this content may be out of date; it was established temporarily to make the transition easier for businesses during the introductory phase of auto-enrolment.)

When do I need to make payments?

For Standard Life pension schemes, all payments need to be with us by the 22nd of the month following the month they were deducted from payroll, on a rolling basis. For example, payroll deductions in May must be received by 22 June.


This is the amount a provider like Standard Life charges for providing, setting up and supporting the running of a group pension scheme. This will depend on what type of pension scheme you choose with us, and what types of investments you choose.

You can find out exactly what your fees would be for an auto-enrolment ready Standard Life Group Flexible Retirement Plan by completing an Online Quote. Or to enquire about fees for a Master Trust, you can call us on 0800 634 7479. Call charges will vary.

Managing requests to join or leave your pension scheme

Members can always choose to leave your scheme if they want, and employees can sometimes ask to join it, if they are eligible. If members ask to leave within a month of joining, this is known as opting out. Whether opting in or out, this needs to be carried out within one month of your receiving the request in writing.

Declaration and Redeclaration of Compliance

The Declaration of Compliance is a mandatory statement to The Pensions Regulator that you have set up and carried out all your pensions-related duties as an employer. It’s also a really useful checklist so we suggest downloading it now.

You’ll need to complete and submit the Declaration no later than five months after your duties start date. This is the case even if you have no employees who are eligible for a pension scheme. In the future, you’ll need to resubmit it on a three-yearly rolling basis.

What next?