Help Centre for Payroll bureaux

NOW: Pensions’ file formats explained (Employer Portal) (Bureau Microsite)

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 Generic Output File.

How the Generic Input File and Generic Output 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 date even if you decide to postpone.

Then at each pay period you will need to:

1. Download the Generic Output 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. Full details on how you can check your files with the NOW: Pensions File Validation Tool can be found in this Help Centre article.

So, let’s take a look at the Generic Input File and Generic Output 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 (payroll assessing)

Generic Output File

The generic output file 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 Generic Output File in the employer portal


To access the Generic Output File you will need to go to the home page in your employer portal and click reports.


There are two types of reports that you can download. Membership categories which provides a detailed breakdown of your workforce and their current auto enrolment status and the Generic Input File.

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 Generic Output File.

Within the Generic Output File there are a few columns for you to take note of:

  • Column F OPT IN DATE

    This column will confirm when you will need to start making contributions for employees in the next available pay period.

  • Column G OPT OUT DATE and Column H OO LASTDAY

    Relate to employees who have opted out. If the date in column G is before the date in column H the member has successfully opted out within their statutory opt out window. You should refund all contributions that have been taken for this member. This will need to be processed and refunded through your payroll.

    If the date in column G is AFTER the date in column H you will need to assume that the member has not opted out within their statuary window and the member is therefore not entitled to a refund.

    Please note, the dates that show on this report should never be altered and should be entered correctly into your payroll software.

  • Column O AVC RATE

    Relates to Additional Voluntary Contribution rates for any members who have increased their contribution rates. If they are showing an additional amount in this column, you will have to deduct more money from their pay.
    It is very important that you check the contributions input into this file as whatever is put on this file will be what is collected.


Recorded webinar: More detail can be found in the “NOW: Pensions file formats explained” webinar. Watch it here.

Live webinar: Alternatively, you can attend the live webinar delivered by our support team who will be on hand to answer your questions. Sign up here.

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,