What is Auto-enrolment?

Auto-enrolment is a new pension savings scheme for certain employees who are not paying into a pension. They will be automatically included in the scheme but can opt out after 6 months.

Auto-enrolment is expected to be introduced in January 2025. This page will be updated as more detail becomes available.

Under the scheme, the employee, employer, and Government all pay a certain amount into the employee’s pension fund.

A new public body, the National Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings Authority, will be set up to administer the Auto-enrolment scheme. The scheme will be supervised by the Pensions Authority.

Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System Bill 2024

The Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System Bill 2024 has been published. Auto-enrolment will come into effect once this law has been passed and enacted.

Who will be automatically enrolled?

You will be automatically enrolled in the new pension scheme if you are an employee and:

  • You are age between 23 and 60
  • You are not currently part of a pension plan
  • You earn €20,000 or more per year

If you previously contributed to a pension but don’t anymore, and you meet the other conditions, you will be automatically enrolled.

If you earn less than €20,000 per year, or you are not age between 23 and 60, you can choose to join the pension scheme if you are not already part of a pension plan.

Does my employer have to participate?

If your employer does not meet their auto-enrolment obligations, they will be subject to penalties and possibly to prosecution. If they don’t make contributions on your behalf, they may be fined and have to make repayments with interest.

However, there are no plans to force employers to contribute to personal pensions.

What happens if I already have a workplace pension? 

You will not be enrolled in the new auto-enrolment scheme if you are paying into a workplace pension plan. You can read more about occupational pensions on our website.

What happens if I change jobs after being enrolled?

If you change jobs after being automatically enrolled, you won’t need to change pension or join a new scheme. You will remain a member of the auto-enrolment scheme on a ‘pot-follows-the-member’ basis. You won’t have to do anything, as the new National Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings Authority will manage the change.

Is auto-enrolment better than my personal pension?

Whether auto-enrolment or your personal pension is better for you depends on your situation and circumstances.

You should review your personal pension and compare it with the benefits of auto-enrolment to see what works best for you.

For guidance on how pensions work, you can visit a Citizens Information Centre, or call the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0818 07 4000.

Can I leave (opt-out of) the pension scheme?

After you are enrolled, you must stay in the pension scheme for at least 6 months. If you opt-out 6 months after you have been enrolled, your contributions will be refunded.

Opting out after a change in contribution rates

If you choose to leave the scheme in month 7 or 8 after a change in contribution rates, you will get a refund.

This refund will be based on the difference between your own contributions at the old and new rates during the previous 6 months.

This option is only available during the first 10 years of the auto-enrolment scheme, as contribution rates gradually increase (see ‘How much do I pay?’ below). There will be 3 contribution rate changes.

Suspending your contributions

You can also suspend your contributions at any time. In this case, you will not get a refund.

What happens to my savings if I opt-out?

Contributions that are not refunded, including those made by your employer and the Government, stay in your savings pot and will continue to be invested.

If you stop working or move abroad at any time before retirement, you will stay enrolled, but you will not make additional contributions. Your existing savings will continue to be invested.

This means you can still access a pension pot at retirement.

Automatically re-enrolled after 2 years

If you leave the plan or suspend your contributions, you will be automatically re-enrolled after 2 years if you are still eligible for the scheme. However, if you have an alternative pension plan, you won’t be re-enrolled.

You can rejoin the plan at any time before the 2 years pass.

How much do I pay?

The amount you pay will be a set rate of your annual salary. Your employer will match your contributions, and the Government will contribute an additional amount. You cannot pay more or less than the set rate.

You and your employer will pay 1.5% of your annual salary in the first year. This will increase to 6% by year 10.

The table below sets out the rates you, your employer, and the Government will pay:

Year of the auto-enrolment scheme
Employee Contribution Rate Employer pays
Government pays
1 to 3 1.5% 1.5% 0.5%
4 to 6 3% 3% 1%
7 to 9 4.5% 4.5% 1.5%
10 and after  6% 6% 2%


The table below includes an example of a worker earning €20,000 a year:

Year of the auto-enrolment scheme Employee pays Employer pays Government pays Total payments per year
1 to 3 €300 €300 €100 €700
4 to 6 €600 €600 €200 €1,400
7 to 9 €900 €900 €300 €2,100
10 and after €1,200 €1,200 €400 €2,800

What is the maximum contribution?

For every €3 that you contribute to your pension fund, your employer will put in €3, and the Government will put in €1. This means that for every €3 you contribute, €7 will be added to your account.

Both an employer’s and the Government’s contributions are capped at €80,000 gross annual salary.

This means for the first 3 years, the maximum amount an employer can contribute is €1,200 a year. This is because 1.5% of €80,000 is €1,200. The maximum amount the Government can contribute is €400 a year, which is 0.5% of €80,000.

If you earn over €80,000, you can still contribute but your employer or the Government won't match your contributions on any income over €80,000.

More information

You can watch the Department of Social Protection’s video on auto-enrolment and visit the auto-enrolment information hub.

You can also read frequently asked questions about auto-enrolment.

Or, email for more details.

Page edited: 9 April 2024