Help and support
FAQs for Employers
Manage my Scheme FAQs
You need to keep an up-to-date and accurate record of the following activities.
- The names and addresses of all the employees you’ve enrolled.
- Records of when you paid contributions into the Scheme.
- Employee opt-in and joiner notices.
- Your pension scheme reference or registration numbers.
- Information you’ve sent to us, as your workplace pension provider.
It’s important to keep these records in an easily-accessible format so you can prove to The Pensions Regulator, if asked, that you’ve met your auto enrolment duties. If you outsource your payroll management to an external provider, they must keep these records up to date and accurate for you. But you’re still legally responsible for ensuring these records are kept.
How long do I need to keep these records for?
You must keep your pension scheme reference or registration numbers, as well as any data you send to us, for six years. You need to keep your opt-out notices for four years.
If an employee leaves their employment they stop being an active member of the Scheme (‘cease active membership’). They will no longer pay contributions and neither will you, as their employer.
You’ll need to put the employee’s leaving date in your pension data file before you upload it. This will close their record as an active member. We’ll send them a ‘leaver’ letter explaining the options they have for their pension savings in the Scheme.
This is the latest date you plan to upload the final pension data file for a specific payroll. You’ll need to enter this date when setting up a payroll.
You can change the data in your file as many times as you need to before this date. You can’t make any changes to the pension data file (generic input file) after this date. You need to make sure all the data in your pension data file is correct and uploaded accurately, so please check your payroll and correct any errors well in advance of the processing date.
Your ER Code, also known as your Company Code, is a unique four-character code which we use to identify your company when you sign your Participation Agreement with us.
You can find this in your Gateway employer website and on any communications we send you.
A CSV file is a plain text file that lets you save data in a structured format. They’re often used to import and export data between different spreadsheet, payroll and accounting software packages. You’ll need to use CSV files when you’re uploading your pension data file and downloading your employee action file.
Remember, when you’re working with CSV files it’s easy to lose information (for example, payroll numbers which start with a zero). To help ensure your data is accurate, please follow these instructions:
- Only export files direct to Excel that are correctly formatted.
- Make any amendments before saving the file.
- Once the file’s complete, save as a .csv file and click ‘Yes’ to use that format.
- Close the document.
- When you’re prompted to save changes, click ‘No’. Your file is ready to upload.
If you need a blank CSV file, you can download one here.
Our system works with most payroll software. You need to submit accurate data to make sure you meet your auto enrolment duties by The Pensions Regulator’s deadlines. Speak to your payroll department or your payroll software provider to find out what systems they have in place to deal with auto enrolment, including assessing and communicating with employees.
You should upload your first file (generic input file) after your duties start date in line with pension regulations. Uploading your file before this date could trigger errors, such as:
- incorrect employee communications
- the wrong contributions being collected, or
- incorrect dates for employees’ opt-out windows.
You should upload your pension data file as soon as possible after your payroll processing date – but make sure all the information in it is correct and complete. We use this information to produce statutory employee communications for you and there are strict timescales, enforced by The Pensions Regulator, for sending these to employees.
When you’re managing data in your Gateway employer website, you use two different files: the pension data file (which you may see referred to as the ‘generic input file’) and the employee action file.
- Your pension data file is a CSV file populated with information about employee contributions from your payroll. You upload this to your employer website after every payroll run.
- The employee action file contains a list of all the changes employees have made since the last payroll run – for example, opting out or in, or changing their contribution rate. You need to download this file to see if there’s any action you need to take before the next payroll run.
It’s worth familiarising yourself with these file formats so you can manage your data accurately.
How the pension data file and employee action file are used
You upload your first pension data file following the first payroll run after your duties start date. You still need to do this even if you decide to postpone. Then at each pay period you’ll need to do the following.
Before the payroll run, download the employee action file from your employer website and update your payroll system with any changes, such as opt-outs or contribution rate changes.
Once you’ve run the payroll, download the pension data file from your payroll software and upload it into the employer website.
Repeat the same steps for every payroll cycle.
Check the files for errors
Mistakes and missing data in payroll files are a common cause of problems. Checking the pension data file for missing data such as dates of birth, email addresses or incorrect gross pay figures will help prevent errors and stop it being rejected.
Pension data file
The pension data file is a comma-separated value (CSV) file that drives everything. It’s used to:
- update the fields in the employer website to inform the Direct Debit collection
- highlight when to send statutory employee communications (if you’ve asked us to manage this for you), and
- log any changes to employee details such as joiners and leavers.
Please don’t alter the CSV file after you’ve extracted it from your payroll software. If you need to change any entries, make the changes in your payroll software and produce another CSV file.
If the files don’t match exactly it can cause problems with Direct Debit collections and employee communications.
Our handy guide explains how each column works in more detail.
Employee action file
The employee action file holds important information such as employee opt-out and opt-in dates. It also tells you if an employee has changed their contribution rate by making additional voluntary contributions (which doesn’t affect the amount of your employer contributions).
Download this file before each payroll run and make any changes before the next pay period closes. For example, if an employee has opted out within their one-month opt-out window, you’ll need to update this and process a refund of their contributions through your payroll. This will ensure no further contributions are taken.
Downloading your employee action file from your employer website
To access the employee action file, go to the home page and select ‘Payroll’.
From within the payroll screen, click on the ‘Download employee action file’ button.
You’ll need to check the employee action file before each payroll run to find out whether any employees have opted in or out, or increased their contributions. Although employees may also choose to tell you this information, they’re not required to.
Important columns in the employee action file
- Column H – OPT IN DATE
- Column J – OPT OUT DATE
- Column K – OO LASTDAY
- Column N – AVC RATE
What is pay period 53?
Pay period 53 takes place when there are 53 weekly pay days in the year (for example, if it’s a leap year). The extra pay run is commonly known as a week 53.
How do you know if you have a week 53?
In 2022-23 there are 53 Wednesdays (the first being 6 April 2022 and the 53rd being 5 April 2023). If you pay your employees weekly, two weekly or four weekly on Wednesday 5 April 2023 you’ll have an extra pay run at the end of the 2022-23 tax year.
If you pay your employees monthly, you won’t have a week 53.
How does it affect the payroll run?
If you run a weekly, two-weekly or four-weekly payroll you may need to complete an additional period after week 52 to finish your PAYE tax year.
If your normal pay date falls on 5 April in 2023, you’ll need to complete the additional period to complete your tax year – even though this might only be one or two days.
How do I amend the pay schedule?
Once you’ve submitted pay period 53, select ‘Edit schedule’ – you can find this on the payroll page under the dates for your next expected file submission – to manipulate pay period 1 to match the dates to your payroll structure.
Monthly payrolls aren’t affected by the additional week.
What does pay period 53 mean for employees?
HMRC instructs employers to give employees an extra amount of tax-free pay – even if their tax-free pay for the year has been allocated. This helps to protect employees’ take-home pay, and ensures the tax for that week doesn’t vary too much from the usual amount.
Once the tax year ends, HMRC will recover the underpaid tax given by the extra personal allowance, by sending out a P800 calculation.
If you have any questions or need information, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your four-digit employer code in the email.
You can also call our dedicated support team on 0330 100 3336 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
If we send statutory auto enrolment communications to your employees on your behalf as part of your service, we can send communications by email:
- direct to each employee, if we have their email address, or
- to your common mailbox – a central email address, for example in your HR or payroll department, to be forwarded on to each employee within the statutory timescales.
It’s important that we have an up-to-date mailbox address that we can send these communications to in order to help you remain compliant with auto enrolment legislation.
We recommend a centrally managed email address is used for this purpose and checked regularly, as each PDF communication is sent as a separate email, with each employee’s payroll number.
We recommend you check the mailbox every day as you’ll be responsible for sending the PDFs on to the relevant employees within the statutory six-week timescale.
How to update your common mailbox address
You can change the common mailbox address for your organisation in our Gateway employer system.
1. Log in to Gateway and go to ‘Employer Settings’ in the top right-hand side. Click on the drop-down box to go to ‘Company Details’.
2. Scroll down to ‘Communication Settings’ and edit the ‘Common mailbox address’. Enter the central email address you’ve chosen to receive the PDF communications and select the tick box when it’s complete.
To view any of the communications that have been sent to a member, go to ‘Employees’ and click on the relevant member. Scroll down to ‘Communications’ and select the communication you want to see.
Each separate PDF will be delivered to your central email address individually, making it easier for you to identify which employee should receive the communication.
You can also email us at email@example.com to tell us what your new mailbox address is.