Supposed to be introduced at the beginning of 2021, the most recent announcement from government is that Auto-enrolment the new retirement savings system for employees that will be introduced in the second half of 2024 (no date confirmed).
The Irish Government had planned to introduce auto-enrolment by the end of 2023 with the first payments going through the new system by 2024. It has been in the works for almost twenty years and marching forward at a snail’s pace. The overall aim of auto-enrolment is to “build a culture of saving for retirement in Ireland”, according to Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys..
Australia launched its auto-enrolment programme back in 1992 and auto-enrolment has been operating in the UK since 2012. Denmark, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland and Thailand also currently have an auto enrolment system for company pensions in place. Each of these countries have their own rates of contributions.
Through auto-enrolment, employers must contribute to a workers’ pension plan. Employees will have access to a workplace pension plan which is co-funded by their employer and the State. Workers who are not currently part of a pension plan, aged 23 years and older and earn €20,000 or more per year will be automatically enrolled into the new workplace pension plan.
Similar to the UK, participation is voluntary, it operates on an ‘opt-out’ rather than an ‘opt-in’ basis. If after six months a worker wants to opt-out, they can but they will be re-enrolled again after two years. This is aimed at encouraging workers to recognise the importance of saving for retirement through a pension plan..
Pension rates follow that for every €3 that you save into a pension, the Government will put in €1, up to a limit. On top of this, your employer will also gradually have to match any contributions you make up to 6% of your salary. This will start off at just 1.5% but gradually increase to 6% by year 10. Both an employer’s and the Government’s contributions will be capped at €80,000 gross annual salary. Contributions on earnings in excess of this won’t be matched by the Government of your employer.
A Central Processing Authority (CPA) will be set up to ensure the best interests of participants and it will administer the system on behalf of employees, their employers and the State. They will collect, pool and distribute contributions to commercial investment managers. The CPA will also operate an online accounts portal where participants can watch their savings pot grow. Setting standards and managing pension pots across employments will also be the responsibility of the CPA.
When set up, it is proposed that there will be a well-balanced and well-diversified default investment fund, plus three other fund options for employees who want to invest their money at different levels of risk. We will await more detail as we get closer to the commencement date…. and as none is set… who knows for sure when it will happen.
John Carolan ACMA, CEO of Solve Outsource
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