Seasonal workers and auto-enrolment – unpicking the facts

With summer in full swing, it's a busy time for seasonal industries all over the UK. In the South East, where our company is based, tourism and agriculture are key sectors that employ many thousands of seasonal workers.

Kent, traditionally known as 'the garden of England' for its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, also boasts many seaside towns where leisure and catering companies take on extra staff for the summer months. In fact, with the onset of agricultural automation, seasonal workers these days are more likely to be serving hot dogs than picking hops.

Tempting though it may be for some employers to pay temporary workers with cash in brown envelopes, bypassing the tax system is illegal and could result in hefty fines or even imprisonment.

If you do decide to pay someone in cash, you should inform the worker that this is a net payment, and you must then work out the correct amounts of PAYE tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to pay to HMRC.

Are seasonal workers eligible for pension auto enrolment?

Auto enrolment was introduced by the government in 2012 to improve pension saving in the UK. It has been gradually rolled out in stages, and now applies to all employers, however large or small.

Despite this, we've found that many businesses don't realise that auto enrolment applies even to temporary staff. Given that pensions are traditionally viewed as part of a permanent job package, it's understandable that there's some confusion. But in an age where casual work and temporary contracts are becoming more and more common, the government is keen to ensure that all types of workers get to save for the future.

When you take on a seasonal worker, you must assess them for auto enrolment from day one, even if they are only working for you for a few days or weeks. They are eligible to be put into a pension scheme if they are:

  • Aged between 22 to State Pension Age
  • Earning over £192 a week or £833 a month

But even if your worker fits these two criteria, you don't necessarily have to enrol them immediately. If you know that temporary staff will be working for you for less than three months, you can choose to delay putting them into a pension scheme under the postponement rules. The Pension Regulator stipulates that within six weeks from the date after postponement starts, you must write to staff individually to tell them what you are doing and how automatic enrolment applies to them.

Need help with payroll for temporary staff?

Here at AMR, we have in-depth knowledge of all the rules and regulations relating to payroll and bookkeeping, whether for seasonal or permanent staff. If you need advice for your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

We use cookies to help provide you with the best possible online experience.
By using this site, you agree that we may store and access cookies on your device. You can find out more and set your own preferences here.