General practitioner Pensions

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NHS pensions auto enrolment: your duty as an employer

As an employer of practice staff you will be required to ensure that your eligible staff (aged between 22 and State Retirement Age) are automatically enrolled into the NHS Pension Scheme.

For staff who may be prevented from joining the NHS pension scheme an 'Alternative Qualifying Pension Scheme' will need to be provided.

So, for example, a 60 year old salaried GP in receipt of an NHS pension from the 1995 section of the scheme but who has returned to work for you will not be able to be enrolled in the NHS pension scheme, but by virtue of being re-employed again and being under the current State Retirement Age (for men) will need to have an alternative pension scheme offered.

NEST, Standard Life and The Prudential are examples of Alternative Qualifying Pension Schemes (AQPS). There are many pension providers in the marketplace and employers are free to choose from a wide range of qualifying pension schemes. 

Employers must pay statutory minimum contribution levels to the AQPS but can pay more if they choose to do so.

Contributions to AQPS  (once fully phased-in) will be at least 8% of the jobholder's qualifying earnings (of which the employer must pay at least 3%).

Qualifying earnings are all earnings of wages or salary, bonuses, overtime, commission and the statutory pay elements, between the lower (currently £5,564) and upper (currently £42,475) earnings levels.

Earnings above and below these limits do not need to be included in the calculation unless the rules of the scheme require it.

Timescale Employer minimum contribution Total minimum contribution
Employer's staging date to 30 September 2017 1% 2%
1 October 2017 to 30 September 2018 2%  5% 
1 Oct 2018 onwards 3% 8% 

The date at which you, as an employer, will be required to enforce this new scheme is known as the 'staging date' and is determined by the number of staff you have.

Larger employers will have to enforce these rules earlier than smaller employers.

You can get more information on what you need to do from the NHS Employers website