Pension saving for retirement - auto enrolment

The government’s aim is for more people to have another income, on top of the State Pension, when they retire. For details of the current state pension see the GOV.UK website.

Since 1 April 2013, the University of Exeter has been legally required to automatically enrol any eligible employees into a pension scheme.

Your contract of employment will state which pension arrangement you will be automatically part be of:

If you are paid on a Temporary Worker basis

If you are paid on a Temporary worker basis you are eligible to opt-in to the NEST pension scheme.

Automatic enrolment into NEST will apply if in any month your gross pay is at least £833 (approximately). However, the University will postpone automatic enrolment for three months. This means that, for example, if you were paid £800 in April, you are eligible for automatic enrolment into NEST but you your automatic enrolment will be postponed until July. If you are paid at least £833 in July, you will be automatically enrolled into NEST. If your pay in July is less than £833 then automatic enrolment will not apply.

We will write to you if you become eligible for automatic enrolment.

Contact E-Claims if you wish to opt-in to NEST before you are automatically enrolled.

Further information is available on the NEST website.

If you are employed on an open-ended or fixed term contract

You will be enrolled into the appropriate pension scheme applicable to you (details of which are shown below under Appropriate Pension Scheme and also on your contract letter) from your first date of employment and automatic deductions will be taken from your pay and will be shown on your payslip.

You can choose to opt out of the pension scheme if you want to, but if you stay in, you will have your own pension in addition to the state benefits which you get when you retire.

Anyone who opts out or stops making payments will be automatically enrolled back into a pension scheme at a later date (usually every three years) if they meet the eligibility criteria. This is because your circumstances may have changed and it may be the right time for you to start saving. We will contact you when this happens, and you can opt out if it’s still not right for you.

If you do not meet all these criteria

You still have the right to opt-in to the appropriate pension scheme – contact the Pay and Benefits Manager.

Re-enrolment requirements

The University is legally required to re-assess those who have previously opted out of membership once every three years following the original enrolment date of 1 April 2013 (eg on 1 April 2016, 1 April 2019 and so on). Therefore, if someone who has previously opted out then meets the age and earnings criteria, once re-assessed, they must again be re-enrolled into a qualifying pension scheme. Please note that for Temporary Workers the three month postponement option is not applicable under re-auto enrolment rules.

The University will write to any members of staff that are automatically enrolled to confirm that this has been done and what action, if any, you need to take. Please note that, under law, you cannot opt out of membership until after you have been officially enrolled in the Scheme, meaning after the date you receive the enrolment letter.

Opting out of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

If you want to opt out of being a member of USS, you will need to obtain an opt-out form from the USS website and return it to the pay and benefits team.

The opt-out form needs to be completed after the date that you are due to be enrolled automatically into a pension scheme (the first of the month in which you are identified as qualifying for enrolment). The form cannot be accepted if it is completed in anticipation of enrolment at a future date. If you are unable to download a form, please contact

Opting out of ERSS

Membership of the ERSS is automatic but not compulsory so you can opt out if you wish. You are able to opt out once you have received your pack from the ERSS administrators, Scottish Widows, which is sent to you after having the first deduction from pay. When you get the pack please follow the instructions on opting out. The University does not supply opt out forms for the ERSS.

Opting out of NEST

If you want to opt out of NEST, you will need to obtain an opt-out form from the scheme administrators by following the instructions in your joiner pack. The completed form should then be returned to NEST.

You are only able to opt out after you have been enrolled automatically into the scheme; the form cannot be accepted if it is completed in anticipation of enrolment at a future date.

Appropriate pension scheme criteria

The appropriate pension scheme is:

  • University of Exeter Retirement Savings Scheme (ERSS) for staff in grades B to D
  • Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) for staff in grades E and above
  • NEST for Temporary workers
  • Some staff in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, who are part of the Medical School, may be able to continue membership of the NHS Pension Scheme 

These schemes are 'qualifying pension schemes', which means that they meet or exceed the government’s new standards. Read further information about:

Contact us

If you have any questions about the scheme or auto enrolment, please contact the Pay and Benefit team.