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Guest Article: ‘Automatic Enrolment’ retirement savings – a good idea?

October 11, 2018

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A good start, but successful pension reform remains to be seen, reports Wendy Doyle, Tully Rinckey


It has been recently reported that just 47% of all employees and 35% of private sector employees have a supplementary pension in Ireland. In light of this, Strawman proposals for an “Automatic Enrolment” Retirement Savings Scheme set to launch here in 2022, have been released for public consultation by the Government. Incredibly, Ireland is only one of two OECD countries without mandatory earnings related element to retirement savings.

It has been proposed that automatic enrolment will supplement the existing State pension and complement existing private pension provisions, will entail a defined contribution model with personal accounts and enrolled employees may retain the freedom to opt out if they choose. In essence employees, employers and the State will make contributions to the members’ accounts.

The current Strawman proposals are:

Whilst the proposals go some way towards helping employees to supplement their state pension, if eligible, on retirement, a number of concerns have been expressed to date including why those over 60 have been excluded when statistics show people are living longer and working longer. In addition, what protections are in place for employees if an employer tries to force them to opt out? To date, an employer has only been required to provide an employee with access to a Personal Retirement Savings Account (“PRSA”) only and therefore an employer could now face increased challenges as a result of the proposed scheme.

Interest groups and stakeholders should submit views and concerns before 4th November 2018 to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It remains to be seen whether the new proposals will go some way to delivering on the Government’s roadmap and indeed commitment to pension reform 2018-2023.


Wendy Doyle is a Partner in Tully Rinckey’s Dublin Employment, Litigation and Intellectual Property and Data Protection practices. She brings extensive experience from practising in large organisations, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, its associated law firm Landwell Solicitors, William Fry Solicitors and Deloitte.

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