Help Centre for Employers

NOW: Pensions’ file formats explained

This help centre article is designed to help familiarise you with the two different file formats that are used when uploading data into your employer portal. The two files are called the Generic Input File and the Employee Action File (EAF).

How the Generic Input File and Employee Action File are used

Below is a description of how you will use these files at each pay period but the first thing you will need to do is upload the Generic Input File following the first payroll run after your staging/duties start date even if you decide to postpone.

Then at each pay period you will need to:

1. Download the Employee Action File from your employer portal at the next payroll run and update your payroll system.
2. Download the Generic Input File from your payroll software and upload it into the employer portal.
3. Repeat steps for every payroll cycle.

Checking the Generic Input File for mistakes is crucial to ensure the smooth running of the auto enrolment process.

So, let’s take a look at the Generic Input File and Employee Action File.

Generic Input File

The Generic Input File is a CSV file that drives everything. It is used to update the fields in the employer portal to inform the Direct Debit collection, when to send statutory employee communications if you have selected NOW: Pensions to do this for you and any changes to employee details such as joiners and leavers.

Please do not alter the CSV file that is extracted from your payroll software, if changes need to be made, always make these changes in your software and produce another extract. If they do not match exactly it can cause problems with DD collections and communications.

Details of the columns in a Generic Input File can be found in the Guide to the generic input file.

Employee Action File

The Employee Action File (EAF) holds important information such as employee opt out and opt in dates. It also informs you if a member has increased their contributions.
This file should be downloaded before each payroll run and any changes made in payroll before the next pay period is closed, i.e. member who has opted out will need to be opted out in payroll, a refund will need to be processed via your payroll if members have opted out within their statutory opt out window of 30 days and no further contributions should be taken.

Accessing your Employee Action File in Gateway
To access the Employee Action File you will need to go to the home page in Gateway and select a payroll.
From within the payroll screen you can use the ‘Download employee action file’ button.
Please note, that your staff are under no obligation to tell you if they have opted out or increased their contributions and therefore it is important that you always check the Employee Action File.

Within the Employee Action File there are a few columns for you to take note of:

  • Column H OPT IN DATE
  • Column J OPT OUT DATE and Column K OO LASTDAY
  • Column N AVC RATE

Related resources

Download the Guide to generic output files
Download Your data files explained (Gateway)
Download the Guide to the generic input file 
How do I avoid employee duplicate records?
How to validate your payroll data

NOW: Pensions has a good technical infrastructure combined with a pension product suitable for our team. We couldn’t be happier with NOW: Pensions.
Martin Woods,