Less than 10% opting out of auto-enrolment pension schemes

Fewer than one in 10 workers are choosing to opt out of their company pension scheme, according to official government figures.

Starting last October, large employers have been forced to auto-enrol their staff into their own pension scheme or a separate plan such as that offered by the NEST (National Employment Savings Trust).

Gradually, over the next three years, auto-enrolment is going to apply to smaller businesses too.

The idea is to get millions more workers starting to save for their retirement. The only way an individual worker can avoid paying into a pension is to opt out of auto-enrolment.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, to date just 9 per cent of employees have chosen to opt out – way short of the 30 per cent predicted by some observers. The highest percentage of opt outs were among the over 50s who may already have pension schemes in place.

"These early results are encouraging. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done," said Tom McPhail, pensions expert at independent financial advice firm Hargreaves Lansdown. "The largest employers were always likely to produce the best results so the real challenges still lie ahead."

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