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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Planning ahead

Government to launch automatic enrolment into pension plans for all citizens by 2022

The consultation process for the proposed automatic enrolment of all citizens into pension plans has now been launched and will last until 4 November.

shutterstock_1053158558 Shutterstock Shutterstock

THE GOVERNMENT HAS launched a consultation process around a proposed automatic enrolment into a retirement pension for all Irish citizens.

The Department of Social Protection has launched the process and its proposals for the Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System.

The proposal is a StrawMan endeavour – the idea being one side comes up with a proposal which is then refined in order to make it as effective as possible.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty described the move as “perhaps the most fundamental policy reform in a generation in terms of retirement savings provision”.

Under automatic enrolment anyone without a private pension plan would be automatically signed into a retirement savings scheme, one they could then leave if they wished.

5398 State Pension_90546067 Leah Farrell / Regina Doherty Leah Farrell / /

The government says it is introducing the measure in order to alleviate the current situation, in which it says roughly two-thirds of all Irish employees are not setting aside savings for their retirement.

Rather than forcing people to save, the proposal is rather designed to encourage people to plan for their future.

State pension

It bears no relation to the State pension, and will not affect it in any way as the proposal currently stands.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said that it will accept the opportunity to respond to the proposal via the consultation process, stating that the government’s proposal follows “international best practice”.

“Generous tax relief on pension savings has failed as an approach for encouraging low and middle income earners to save enough for their retirement,” said ICTU’s social policy officer Laura Bambrick regarding the news.

Added to this, employers are not legally required to establish or contribute to an occupational pension scheme, and fewer and fewer are doing so voluntarily.

“As the State pension is not earnings-related, workers without a workplace or private pension are at risk of a significant drop in their living standards in old age,” she added.

The proposed scheme would see workers contributing up to 6% of their salary, with that amount then matched by their employers. Under the scheme the State would contribute €1  for every €3 saved by workers.

Just 35% of Irish workers in private employment, as opposed to public sector workers say, have a private pension plan.

The launch of an automatic enrolment system has been mooted for the last 20 years, but has never been acted upon.

Ireland is one of only two OECD countries which operates without any form of mandatory retirement saving plan.


The consultation period remains open until 4 November. Submissions can be made via email to Further details regarding the scheme are available at

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