Auto-Enrolment: What you need to know

Monday, January 15, 2024. 12:14pm


Auto-enrolment (AE) which is a State-run workplace pension plan for non-pensioned employees is finally set to be introduced after years of delays in 2024.  Whilst the final date is due to be announced early in 2024, it looks like the scheme will finally be enforced on companies in the latter end of the year. Auto-Enrolment’s introduction in 2024 represents a significant shift in how retirement savings are approached in the hospitality and restaurant industry, offering both challenges and opportunities for employers and employees alike.

Auto-Enrolment: What you need to know

This scheme is co-funded by both the employer and the State, offering a new retirement savings solution. Under this new retirement savings scheme, employees can only have one pension pot, meaning they must choose between auto-enrolment and a private pension; they cannot run both simultaneously.  It is providing a pension for employees who do not have a pension scheme, earn more than €20,000 per year and are aged between 23 and 60.  People outside of this range will not be automatically enrolled but will be able to opt in.  Employees already contributing to an occupational pension scheme, or an equivalent scheme, will not be automatically enrolled.

Auto-Enrolment’s introduction addresses a critical need for enhanced retirement savings, especially for lower-income earners who often lack adequate pension provisions. With an ageing population and strained state pensions, AE offers a proactive solution to ensure financial stability for retirees, aligning with global trends towards mandatory retirement savings schemes.

Auto-enrolment (AE) is particularly important for those working in the hospitality and restaurant sector for several reasons:

  1. Pension Coverage: Many employees in the hospitality and restaurant industry traditionally lack access to employer-sponsored pension plans. AE ensures that these workers have an opportunity to save for retirement.
  2. Financial Security: AE offers a structured way for employees to build savings for their retirement, providing a sense of financial security and stability in a sector known for fluctuating incomes and job mobility.
  3. Employer Contribution: Under AE, employers contribute to their employees’ pensions, enhancing the overall remuneration package. This can be a significant benefit in an industry where wages are often variable.
  4. Attracting and Retaining Staff: Offering a pension scheme can make hospitality and restaurant jobs more attractive. In an industry with high turnover rates, this can aid in retaining staff and reducing recruitment costs.
  5. Legal Compliance: For employers in the hospitality sector, participating in AE is not just beneficial but also a legal requirement. Non-compliance could result in penalties, making it important for businesses to understand and adhere to the rules.
  6. Competitive Advantage: By providing a pension scheme, employers in the hospitality and restaurant sector can position themselves as responsible and caring employers, potentially gaining a competitive advantage in both customer and employee markets.
  7. Improved Financial Literacy: The introduction of AE can serve as a catalyst for improving financial literacy among employees, encouraging them to think more about personal finances and long-term saving strategies.
  8. Adaptability: The sector’s dynamic nature requires adaptability in benefits and remuneration. AE offers a standardised, manageable way for employers to offer a significant benefit without excessive administrative burden.
  9. Enhanced Employee Morale: Knowing that their future is being invested in can boost employee morale, leading to increased productivity and a more positive workplace environment.
  10. Alignment with Global Trends: As AE is already in place in countries like the UK and Australia, adopting this in Ireland aligns the hospitality and restaurant sector with international standards and practices, potentially attracting international talent.

For employers, particularly in the hospitality and restaurant sector, Auto-Enrolment’s implementation requires careful consideration. They must balance the financial implications with their employees’ needs, choosing between the State’s AE model and adapting existing pension plans. Employers face the challenge of managing additional costs, compliance, and providing support and advice to employees.

Educating employers and employees about AE is crucial for its success. Employers need to communicate clearly, integrate AE with existing pension systems, and handle administration efficiently. They must consider factors like employee tax brackets and gender-specific needs in their decision-making.

The funding model of Auto-Enrolment involves contributions from the employee, employer, and the State, set to increase incrementally over 10 years. This model draws insights from the UK’s auto-enrolment system and Australia’s superannuation system, tailored to Ireland’s socio-economic context.

For those already in a workplace pension plan, AE won’t bring changes, as these plans usually involve employer contributions and tax relief for employees. However, employers will now need to ensure all eligible employees are offered a pension, either through existing plans or the new AE system. This includes large employers with voluntary membership plans and smaller businesses deciding between the State AE system and a traditional occupational scheme.

In conclusion, AE in Ireland is a transformative approach to retirement planning, Its success hinges on effective implementation and adaptation. This policy shift underscores the need for businesses to prepare for increased employee remuneration costs and highlights the opportunity for companies to attract and retain talent by embracing this change.


Auto-enrolment in Ireland is more than just a policy change; it’s a transformative approach to retirement planning crucial for both employee welfare and employer strategy, particularly in the hospitality and restaurant sectors. Its success will depend on effective implementation, employer and employee engagement, and continuous evaluation and adaptation. As Ireland joins other nations in enhancing retirement savings, AE stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to securing a financially stable future for its citizens. Employers who have pensions without 100% coverage will have to decide to opt for the State’s auto enrolment or adapt an existing plan.

The Key message is to get ahead of these changes and prepare for greater costs as part of employee remuneration.  Its importance is that those companies/businesses that embrace and adapt to this change may find they are more successful in attracting and retaining employees.

If you are seeking more information on the implementation of Auto-enrolment (AE), particularly regarding its impact and preparatory steps for your business in the hospitality and restaurant sector, contact Nick Charalambous, the Managing Director of Alpha Wealth. His expertise can provide valuable insights into how to effectively navigate the upcoming changes with AE. You can reach out to him at [email protected] for more details on how to get ahead of being automatically enrolled and to understand the full implications for you and your employees. His guidance can be instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition to this new pension scheme and optimising its benefits for your business.

Auto-Enrolment: What you need to know

Nick Charalambous, the Managing Director of Alpha Wealth

Visit Alpha Wealth’s website HERE

Read more Hotel & Restaurant Times Articles HERE

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