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Quarter of employees unaware they may be saving more for their retirement

Close up image of a man sitting next to a laptop and mobile phone.
  • Minimum contributions to workplace pensions are rising to 8% of earnings.
  • Saving less than £1 a day extra will cover the increase for an average earner.
  • Fewer than one in ten people say they will opt out.
  • More than a quarter of people say they don’t know about the increase.

There is a big change happening this spring which will affect millions of people’s pay packets. However, new research from Aviva1 has found more than a quarter (27%) of employees aged 22+ in the UK still don’t know about it.

From 6 April, the minimum contribution for anyone auto-enrolled into their workplace pension is going up from 5% to 8% of their pensionable salary.

But employees won’t have to pay all of that. Typically, they will put in 4%, with 3% coming from their employer and 1% from the government in tax relief.

Even though the changes come into effect from their April pay day, Aviva’s research has found it could come as a surprise to millions of employees.


the number of workers
auto-enrolled since 2012


the earnings threshold for

The recent survey of workers aged 22+ found more than a quarter (27%) didn’t know about the increase.  A similar proportion (29%) said they’d heard something about it but didn’t know the details. Less than half (44%) said they were aware.

Aviva’s research also found that fewer than one in ten people (9%) said they would opt out of their workplace pension scheme when contributions increase.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva, said:

“So far, employers and employees have taken auto-enrolment in their stride, but contributions have to rise to give more savers a chance of a decent retirement.

“Contributions started at 2% of earnings which was a good way of easing people into the idea of retirement saving, but that was never going to be enough to provide most people with a comfortable retirement.

Auto-enrolment was first introduced by the government in 2012. Now all businesses with at least one employee must offer a workplace pension scheme. Anyone aged over 22 who earns more than £10,000 a year must be auto-enrolled, although workers can opt-out.

Since 2012, more than 10 million people have been auto-enrolled and opt-out rates have remained low.

The increase to 8% is another step in the right direction. And it’s a smart time to introduce the rise as it will coincide with increases in minimum wage, bigger income tax allowances and a common time for pay rises.

For an eligible employee earning the average salary of £27,500, the increase will be less than £1 a day but they’ll see an extra £50 go into their pension pot each month as their employer and the government will also be paying in more.

The fact that our survey shows only a small proportion of people say they will definitely opt out is great news. It’s a testament to the efforts everyone has made over the past six years that saving in a workplace pension has become the norm.

The aim of auto-enrolment is to encourage people to save into a pension to help give themselves a better standard of living when they retire.  But to make this a reality, Aviva is calling for minimum contributions to be gradually increased to 12.5% by 2028. 

Aviva also wants to see self-employed people included in some form of auto-enrolment to support those working in the gig economy. 


1 1,212 employed people aged 22+ were surveyed by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva in March 2019

Media enquiries

Ben Moss

Corporate and Workplace

Notes to editors:

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