Automatic enrolment 

Women more likely to opt-out of pensions

Women more likely to opt-out of pensions

Women of all ages are more likely to opt out of workplace pension schemes than men, according to analysis from provider Now: Pensions.

According to the research, based on the company's own opt-out data, nearly one in 10 women (9 per cent) opted out of auto-enrolment, compared with 7 per cent of men.

Women between the ages of 60 and 64 are most likely to opt-out, since only 62 per cent of people in this age bracket remain in their workplace scheme compared to 70 per cent of men.

The overall opt-out rate for 60 to 64-year-olds during last year was 33 per cent.

Men aged 22 to 29 are least likely to opt-out of workplace pension saving with just 3 per cent doing so.

This compares with 5 per cent of women in the same age group.

The overall opt out rate for 22 to 29-year-olds at Now: Pensions was 4 per cent at the end of 2017.

Now: Pensions’ opt out rates Jan – Dec 2017

Age Band

Male

Female

All

22-29

3%

5%

4%

30-39

5%

7%

6%

40-49

7%

9%

8%

50-59

12%

15%

13%

60-64

30%

38%

33%

All ages

7%

9%

8%

Once staff have been enrolled into a workplace pension scheme, they have one calendar month during which they can opt out and get a full refund of any contributions.

After that, individuals won't get their money back if they decide to leave the scheme.

The employer is then required to automatically enrol the worker into the scheme at a later date (normally every three years), if the individual is an eligible jobholder at that time.

According to Troy Clutterbuck, interim chief executive at Now: Pensions, the reasons for women opting out more than men, especially older ones, "are undoubtedly far from simple".

He said: "It might be that older people think it is too late or don't believe there is any benefit of being in a workplace pension as they get close to retirement. It could be that they already have enough put aside.

"For women, who are more likely to be part-time workers and lower earners, it might be that they simply don't feel they can afford it.

"For these groups, arguably more needs to be done to drive home the value of the employer contribution, tax relief and the tax-free lump sum."

For Martin Bamford, chartered financial planner for Surrey-based Informed Choice, this analysis shows that "women continue to struggle to save for retirement".

He said: "In our experience, women in their 50s and 60s tend to feel it is not worth saving into a pension, because of the relatively short timescale and small amounts involved.

"More women than men tend to be in part-time or temporary employment, which is another factor driving low savings rates.

"Despite this attitude and behaviour, every amount saved for the future is valuable and can make an important difference in later life.

"We should focus on the large number of women who are not opting-out of their workplace pensions, as this is positive for the future shape of retirement provision in the UK.

"As workplace pensions become established, we hope to see these opt-out trends change, with less disparity between men and women, and higher contribution rates across the board."