Start date for landmark pensions auto-enrolment scheme slips to late 2024

Initiative will see most workers being signed up to a pension scheme by default with option to opt out

The start date for the Government’s landmark auto-enrolment (AE) scheme for pensions has been pushed out to the second half of 2024.

Under the planned auto-enrolment scheme, most workers will be signed up to a pension scheme by default, though they will be able to opt out.

Questions have previously been raised about whether the system would be ready in 2024 at all and now it has been confirmed that the target date for starting the scheme has started to slip.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has told the Dáil that a “key element” of the new system is the setting up of a new central processing authority (CPA) to manage and administer the AE system on behalf of the participants.


In a written response to a question from Green Party TD Patrick Costello, she said the legislation to underpin the establishment of the CPA is currently being drafted.

She expects to publish it in the autumn “and to commence its passage through the Oireachtas immediately thereafter”.

She said: “Enactment of the AE Bill will then facilitate the AE system to start in the second half of 2024.”

Last October Ms Humphreys had signalled her intention to have the scheme brought in early next year.

She said at the time: “After decades of talking about auto-enrolment in this country, I am pleased to say the AE train is now very firmly on the tracks and leaving the station ahead of its introduction in early 2024.”

The Irish Times reported in January that officials at the Department of Finance had cast doubt on whether the scheme will be ready to begin in 2024.

A briefing paper prepared for the then new Minister for Finance Michael McGrath in December said: “The envisaged commencement of AE is 2024, which at this point seems somewhat ambitious given all that needs to be done.”

Earlier this year employers’ group Ibec called on the Government to delay the introduction of AE for two years after the legislation is passed.

Speaking to an Oireachtas committee, Ibec director of lobbying and influence, Fergal O’Brien, said there should be a full two-year lead-in period to the introduction of workplace auto-enrolment from the time the Bill is enacted.

Under Ibec’s timeline the scheme would not start taking contributions from workers and employers until 2026.

The plans for auto-enrolment would see everyone earning more than €20,000 a year and aged between 23 and 60 enrolled in a private pension scheme.

Up to 750,000 workers are likely to be affected initially when the scheme gets up and running.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times