Automatic enrolment case study - North West

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Why was the group established

There was a feeling that some centralised work to develop a suite of supporting auto enrolment letters was necessary and therefore the 'North West Pensions Auto Enrolment Group' (NWPAEG) was established. The group is made up of payroll managers from a number of North West trusts.

What we did

The group identified the need to develop a suite of automatic enrolment related letters that could be used within the NHS. These letters were to be based on The Pensions Regulator (TPR) statutory wording but would be fine tuned to reflect NHS dynamics and NHS pension requirements.

How we did it

As soon as the group participants were confirmed, one of the first steps was to agree the scope of the project and agree the deliverables. The terms of reference were drawn up to ensure that the specific deliverables were documented and to provide accountability for time spent on the project.


  • the creation of letter templates
  • develop supporting documentation
  • develop best practice guidance
  • opt out process timeline
  • end to end timeline
  • end to end process mapping
  • TPR / NWPAEG letter matrix.

In addition, the group had to ensure:

  • compliance with TPR
  • an understanding of the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) processes
  • that they provided feedback to payroll managers.

The group met face-to-face to develop the products, in total they had six meetings plus all group members were given work to do when they got back to their respective trusts.

The group had a terms of reference based on ensuring compliance with TPR statutory requirements but with additional information to reflect NHS pension considerations. The group achieved sign off through group peer review and proof reading of the letters as they developed. Once the group were happy with the final version they signed off that letter and attached a unique referencing and version number.


The group delivered all the deliverables along with additional supporting documentation.

Apart from logistical problems in devoting the time to meet and work on the letters whilst dealing with a heavy 'day job' workload, the group did not encounter any real problems and all members of the group contributed to the deliverables working both at the meetings and outside of the group in their own time.

Template letters

These letter templates are the result of the work carried out by the North West PAEG. The letters have been designed to assist NHS organisations produce suitable letters for their organisation. The group also produced a table which provides a comparison of the differences between the TPR letter templates and the North West PAEG letter templates below.

DISCLAIMER - Please note that the North West PAEG and NHS Employers do not accept any liability for use of these letters. If you decide to use these templates you must ensure they are suitable and amend as necessary for your circumstances. These templates are intended as a guide only. NHS Employers will be unable to respond to any queries regarding these letters, if you have any queries please use the contact details provided below.

Letter 1A eligible jobholders, NHS Pension Scheme

Letter 1B eligible jobholders, alternative scheme

Letter 1C new starters who are eligible jobholders but have opted out of NHS Pension Scheme

Letter 1T transitional delay

Letter 2A non-eligible jobholders, NHS Pension Scheme

Letter 2B non-eligible jobholders, alternative scheme

Letter 3A entitled workers, NHS Pension Scheme

Letter 3B entitled workers, alternative scheme

Letter 4 pre-existing members

Letter 5 postponement for a non-member

Letter 6 postponement all workers

Letter 7 payslip note.

Lessons learnt

  • involve all key stakeholders from the outset
  • auto enrolment is not just about pensions – it has business process implications (data cleanse / data flows / resource implications / impact on steady state monthly processes)
  • engagement of Human Resources, workforce planning, payroll and finance is critical
  • communication with employees is not just about the formal letters required by TPR
  • the group recognised that the primary function of the letters was to discharge statutory requirements to write to workers. It also identified the need for wider staff communication and awareness of pension reform
  • use team brief, posters, payslip attachments and global emails to raise awareness of auto enrolment
  • try to remove employee concerns regarding auto enrolment and the impact on net take home pay
  • auto enrolment is a complex process and there is no single overview approach
  • organisations need to develop a project plan approach to auto enrolment (both pre and post staging date)
  • do not underestimate the impact on processes post staging date
  • review and redesign ESR end to end processes
  • recognise auto enrolment is the employers responsibility not that of software or payroll provider – however, both can help and indeed auto enrolment is not capable of being delivered without both.

Contact details:

If you would like further information on the North West Special Interest group or would like to speak to somebody regarding the letter templates please use the following contact details for members of the group:

Gale Phipps-Robinson - Stockport NHS Foundation Trust;

Elaine Hindle - Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Hospitals NHS;                    

Julie Steel - Southport & Ormskirk NHS Trust;

Linda Williams - Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust ;

Michael Blackburn - Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust;

Andrew Singleton - Bolton Foundation Trust;

Rob Simonds - St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS ;

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