What is a salary sacrifice pension? A guide for employers

The authorities is eager to motivate individuals to conserve into personal pension pots.

Since of this, some generous tax breaks are obtainable. One of these, known as wage sacrifice, can even gain the employer.

In this write-up, we take a glimpse at wage sacrifice pensions and how they operate, and solution a series of concerns you might have about them.

Here’s what we deal with:

What is a income sacrifice pension?

Wage sacrifice is a way of notionally decreasing a salary to shell out for gains supplied by an employer.

These advantages are appealing to an employee, these as having to pay for an electrical vehicle, or utilizing the Cycle to Do the job scheme to use a bike.

Occasionally these are referred to as positive aspects-in-variety, or BIK. Some BIKs are taxed, but other individuals aren’t.

Salary sacrifice can also be applied for staff pension payments, and is not taxed.

To understand the added benefits, we initial have to go over the present way personnel usually pay into their pensions.

Tax reduction is now out there on private pension contributions. To make it simple, a lot of companies offer a net pay back arrangement.

This indicates the pension contribution is taken from the salary before tax is calculated, and so much less tax is deducted from the pay. As a consequence, the staff receives tax relief on the pension contributions without the need of getting to do just about anything.

Salary sacrifice pension contributions are an different to the web shell out arrangement that often is effective out improved for both of those employee and employer.

It is also identified as wage exchange, and, considerably less typically, Sensible (Preserve Far more and Lessen Tax).

With salary sacrifice pension contributions, a new contractual wage is agreed by lowering the first wage by the total the personnel wishes to make as a pension contribution.

In exchange, the employer pays the exact same price as employer pension contributions on top of any current employer pension contributions (e.g. a least of 3% as for each car-enrolment policies).

Mainly because their income is now properly decrease, personnel not only most likely lessen the tax they pay—just like with the net pay out arrangement—but also lessen their Course 1 Countrywide Coverage contribution (NIC) payments (and, as of 2023/24, payments for the Overall health and Social Treatment Levy).

The worker can use the lowered NICs to fund an increased pension payment, or minimize the expense of contributing all round.

Possibly way, it’s normally a lot more useful than working with the internet pay back arrangement, or the alternate relief at source arrangement.

Due to the fact companies also shell out a different Course 1 NIC (and Wellbeing and Social Care Levy contributions as of 2023/24), this is also reduced.

This saving is instant, with no prerequisite to assert it back again at a long term day.

On payslips, it can seem as if the employer has produced one particular more substantial contribution, with the personnel seemingly acquiring contributed practically nothing.

Of program, this is not truly the circumstance.

How does a salary sacrifice pension function?

There is at the very least four phases associated in implementing wage sacrifice pension contributions.

1. How feasible is a wage sacrifice pension?

Earning salary sacrifice pension contributions is not ideal for everybody.

It simply cannot decrease the employee’s shell out underneath the Countrywide Least Wage (NMW), in spite of what the personnel may possibly ask for.

Other regular or irregular deductions also need to be taken into account at this issue to make sure that they furthermore the income sacrifice don’t ever acquire the wage beneath this legal need.

Paying considerably less than the NMW can get an employer in significant authorized issues.

Thus, this is something businesses will have to have to constantly keep an eye on if an staff makes use of salary sacrifice (though this can be folded into ongoing payroll obligations checking car-enrolment pension requirements, such as no matter if younger or decrease-earning staff develop into eligible).

2. Decisions for salary sacrifice pensions

Next, the worker should be in settlement that income sacrifice ought to be applied and that it doesn’t have an effect on any statutory payments (see ‘Disadvantages for employees’, below).

Income sacrifice pension contributions cannot be unilaterally imposed by employers, even though they might default to these types of a procedure and talk to the worker if they agree. This can be carried out all through current conversations all over pension automobile-enrolment.

If the staff disagrees (or simply just opts out of the pension plan) then it will have to be attainable to operate without having wage sacrifice deductions.

If the staff agrees to income sacrifice, they’ll also want to make your mind up what share of their wage to give up as income sacrifice (e.g 5%, 10%).

This may possibly entail them calculating how a lot their gross pay out will be lessened, and consequently how much they’ll conserve by using reduced earnings tax and NICs.

The employer will have to determine if they are going to move any price savings they get with regard to lower employer NICs (and Well being and Social Treatment Levy as of April 2023) to the employee’s pension contributions.

Some businesses seem to move on price savings they may make immediately after scheme charges, but it is not necessary.

3. Changing the employment deal for a income sacrifice pension

Thirdly, any present employment contract demands to be modified to point out that the employee is in receipt of the gain that is salary sacrifice pension benefit.

Generally, this is accomplished by adding a clause to the work contract, which is communicated to personnel when they indicator up for income sacrifice, but businesses should really seek lawful advice on the wording.

It’s well worth noting that HMRC does not usually enable employees to change in and out of salary sacrifice much more than when in a 12-month period except there is a big daily life party, these kinds of as relationship, divorce, birth of a boy or girl, and so on.

If you’re not sure, check with HMRC’s policies and rules.

4. Making use of wage sacrifice weekly/regular in payroll computer software

Finally, the payroll software package have to be configured so that the salary sacrifice is applied.

Not all payroll program is suitable with income sacrifice, so businesses need to check with the software package vendor.

Sage Payroll can be used for salary sacrifice pension contributions.

If salary sacrifice pension contributions have not been carried out right before, this will probably require creating a new payment/deduction for wage sacrifice.

This will then be applied in the pensions set up place, with both the employer and staff contributions specified.

Then, during payroll, a new salary sacrifice line will look for the employee, with the calculations routinely applied to the web income quantities.

Benefits of a salary sacrifice pension

All people enjoys saving on tax and Nationwide Insurance coverage contributions in a way which is not only authorized but inspired.

HMRC didn’t contact the wage sacrifice pension arrangement when it clamped down in 2017 on tax relief for other varieties of salary sacrifice (e.g. gains-in-kind strategies these types of as small-emission vehicles).

That is as optimistic a thumbs-up as you are going to get.

Listed here are the certain gains for employees and businesses.

Gains for staff

Workforce get to boost their pensions by way of clever efficiencies in a way that is more efficient in contrast to choices.

Or they get to acquire household much more shell out.

For individuals having to pay into a pension later in life, when their earnings could be higher, salary sacrifice pension contributions offer a good way to make up for dropped ground or inadequate pension performance by creating much larger payments with no lowering take-house pay out.

It’s also achievable for personnel to incorporate a wage sacrifice bonus or more income payments.

All over again, those people paying out into a pension afterwards in lifetime frequently put significantly or all of any annually bonus straight into their pension to stay clear of spending tax on it, or to avoid pushing their wage into a better tax bracket.

To stay on the ideal aspect of the regulation with regard to when a reward is viewed as to be received, a conclusion ought to be created for the sacrifice of the bonus effectively forward of time.

In practice, it is typically carried out ahead of the entitlement to the bonus is disclosed.

Positive aspects for businesses

Employers perhaps get to save sizeable amounts on wage payments if they maintain the NIC price savings for them selves.

Also, pension contributions are an allowable tax deduction.

So with properly enhanced employer contributions, businesses could preserve right here far too (while advice really should be sought from a tax qualified).

But employers have to have to look at the bigger photograph.

Employees are progressively conscious of salary sacrifice, so employers that don’t present it are at a prospective competitive disadvantage when it arrives to recruitment.

If the employer agrees to go on their Class 1 NIC personal savings to the employee’s pension contributions then this can form one more really beautiful recruitment issue.

When once again, the employee gets to increase their contributions with no loss of earnings.

This comes at no added outlay for the employer in comparison to a non-salary-sacrifice arrangement.

Cons of a salary sacrifice pension

As tempting as they are, it is wrong to think that wage sacrifice pension contributions are without having concerns.

And which is some thing that must be regarded in advance of time.

Here’s what you will need to be knowledgeable of.

Drawbacks for employees

Staff members will need to take care that salary sacrifice doesn’t carry their salary below the reduced earnings limit (£6,396 for each yr in 2022/23).

If that comes about, it suggests they drop long run entitlement to the likes of statutory unwell fork out, maternity shell out, paternity pay out, incapacity reward, and far more.

In addition, mainly because the contractual earnings are now lessened, the level of borrowing the personnel could possibly be able to accessibility could be minimized.

This can affect home loans in individual. The likes of life assurance can also be afflicted when they’re set at a many of the contractual wage.

Negatives for employers

Employers facial area a most likely larger administrative stress about location up salary sacrifice techniques and then retaining them.

Having said that, it’s doable to argue that this need to be considered as element and parcel of any present do the job done for car-enrolment pensions.

Notably, HMRC does not commonly just take an fascination in wage sacrifice pension arrangements by businesses, but it is smart to continue to keep any documentation just in case.

Lots of firms contemplating wage sacrifice go over it through the HMRC helpline first, or get other expert steering to assure compliance.

The admin jobs for employers entail at minimum the subsequent:

  • Educating staff members about the probability of income sacrifice. This consists of the negatives pointed out higher than (despite the fact that this can end result in a gain-acquire for each businesses and workforce if the latter agree to a salary sacrifice pension). On the other hand, your pension provider could have resources you can deploy.
  • Offering a way to choose in or out, these as on line, or by completing a paper kind. On-line kinds frequently have a income and pensions calculator to support employees make the greatest conclusion. When opting out, it need to be manufactured very clear that this is opting in or out of wage sacrifice pension contributions and NOT automobile-enrolment (despite the fact that opting out of automobile-enrolment automatically indicates supplying up income sacrifice, of course).
  • Applying a correct work contract clause for workforce that decide in. Making sure that it is issued to staff, that they indicator it by way of agreement and authorisation, and that this settlement is held securely alongside other payroll document retaining.
  • Checking personnel wages that utilise income sacrifice. This is to assure the wage does not drop beneath Nationwide Residing Wage or Nationwide Least Wage ranges (although payroll application may possibly assistance with this and make this job less complicated).

Illustration of how a income sacrifice pension performs

Jane Smith earns £25,000 a yr.

Her employer operates a fundamental automobile-enrolment pension scheme exactly where it contributes the minimum amount 3% employer contribution, when all its staff members contribute 5% utilizing the net shell out technique.

Using HMRC’s Course 1 NIC payroll checker calculator, we can see that just before salary sacrifice, the regular monthly Class 1 NICs are as follows:

  • Employer NICs: £199.46
  • Personnel NICs: £166.99

Next salary sacrifice of 5% of her earnings, and with Jane now contractually earning £23,750 a calendar year, the month-to-month NICs are decreased as follows:

  • Employer NICs: £183.78 (preserving £15.68 for each month)
  • Personnel NICs: £153.19 (saving £13.80 per month)

Income sacrifice pension FAQs

Below are the solutions to usually asked questions about wage sacrifice in observe:

How much must your workers sacrifice for their pensions?

The auto-enrolment minimal of 5% worker contribution will have to carry on to be noticed.

Most workers sacrifice concerning 5% to 15%, relying on their situation and demands with regard to pension discounts.

What’s the restrict to a salary sacrifice pension?

There is no limitations on the most that can be sacrificed.

Even though to preserve tax aid, contributions can not exceed £40,000 each individual yr for most people today.

Can staff members choose out of a wage sacrifice pension?

Income will have to be a voluntary arrangement among employer and employee.

As soon as underway, personnel can decide-out, though HMRC may perhaps penalise the employer if this transpires additional than at the time in a 12-month interval unless of course the staff has a great rationale.

These include things like childbirth, redundancy of the individual’s lover, and other lifestyle-changing situations.

Last views on salary sacrifice pensions

Salary sacrifice pension contributions supply a great deal for everybody associated, with extremely handful of drawbacks.

Regardless of whether it is ideal for you and your staff is a determination that you will require to make, most likely by talking about it with HMRC to start with, or getting other expert steering.

These discussions ought to also aid ensure compliance with laws.

Even so, presented the constraints reviewed above are noticed, and assuming businesses can spare the administrative capacity to deploy it, equally staff and companies stand to gain with no there getting any pain.