SFA Responds to Oireachtas Report on the Automatic Enrolment Bill

May 04, 2023

The Small Firms Association (SFA) welcomes the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection Report on Pre-legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System Bill 2022.

Workplace pensions will soon become a legal requirement for all Irish businesses. Even if they employ just one person, it will be compulsory to pay contributions for eligible workers into the automatic enrolment retirement savings system on their behalf.

Commenting on today’s announcement Elizabeth Bowen, SFA Public Affairs Lead said: “The SFA and our members are happy to see the recommendation of a two-year lead-in period following the Bill being passed and signed. SFA had called for the implementation date to be pushed out to 2025 at the earliest or possibly 2026, so that small and micro business owners could coordinate and manage this new business cost alongside other employment legislative changes.

“Nevertheless, it is disappointing that the Committee has recommended a lower age limit of 16 years and that the lower income threshold of €20,000 be removed. Which is a considerable change from the draft legislation. This will impose further costs and administration on all employers but particularly those in the experience economy such as retail, hospitality, and adventure centres.

“The Committees decision not to revert to the proposal as set out within the pensions Strawman to include the self-employed into the scope of eligible participants is a missed opportunity. The self-employed make up approximately 16% of the working population of which only approximately 30% have supplementary pension cover.

“The introduction of workplace pensions will be daunting to a small business owner that may lack the time and skills to get to grips with Automatic Enrolment. The SFA will remain committed to preparing members to plan for and operate this new retirement savings system.”

Bowen concluded: “Business is ready to work with Government, to ensure the Bill works for small firms.