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(Question is in context of UK only)

Background

Government is currently phasing in an auto-enrollement for private penions. Employers must automatically enroll employeess onto private pension scheme. Nuff said, more info in google.

Employee does have the right to opt out. If employee opts out within first 30 days from being auto-enrolled then she/he will be refunded any of contributions already made and her/his case will be treated as if employee has never joined a scheme (at least until the next auto-enrollement)

Question

Is scheme provider obliged to confirm optout in writing?

I am facing a situation where I have been auto-enrolled onto pension scheme. Scheme provider did not give clear instructions of "how to opt out". In fact opting out was only possible via one-time web-form available when performing a mandatory registration on pension provider's website. Once I have opted out I received a popup message saying "Thanks you are now opted out". After that registration went on and I gained access to account. Nothing inside online account indicates that I have opted out. It just states that I am a member of the scheme. There is no option to opt out now that I have registered... I have not received an email or letter confirming my opting out. In other words I have no confirmation of me opting out whatsoever.

I have tried calling scheme provider and requesting a confirmation of myself opting out but they explicitely refused stating that they don't provide such confirmations.

Having that said there is nothing preventing my employer from continuing deductions from my salary against my will and submitting these funds to pension scheme provider. I am worried that once 30 days period expires I will not be able to get my initial contribution (made against my will) refunded.

Any ideas on the above?

Update:

Took me a week but eventually I managed to receive a confirmation from my employer. Problem solved. Thanks to everyone for input. Especially to @Vicky

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    Interesting question, and I don't know the answer, but another route might be via your employer rather than via the scheme provider. Your employer ought to know (and be able to confirm) whether you have opted out as they make the payments to the pension provider on your behalf. – Vicky Aug 13 '18 at 10:54
  • Going to give it a go today. It takes several days for HR to respond. Will post back as soon as I hear back. – Art Gertner Aug 13 '18 at 11:03
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    I've now done (minimal) research: "You can opt out by contacting your pension provider. Your employer must tell you how to do this.". Deleted my previous comment as factually incorrect. – AndyT Aug 15 '18 at 14:38
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I'd suggest a multi-pronged approach, depending on how important this is to you:

  • Firstly, you should be able to opt out at any time, not just at initial enrolment. So ask the provider how to do this and then do it, just in case the first time didn't take effect. Ideally this'd be by some method where you can keep a record too.

  • Secondly, they would have to tell you whether you are opted in or out if you send them a subject access request. Unfortunately, although these should be responded to "without undue delay", the long stop is one month and you will find it hard to force them to respond more quickly. You can phrase your request as being just for that single piece of information and emphasise that you think they should be able to provide a response quickly.

  • Comment on your first point. With all the pensions schemes that I have encountered you cannot opt out at any time. You can only opt out within first X months (X usually being 1). An intent to opt out past that period is treated as a request to temporarily stop contributions but not an opt out. – Art Gertner Aug 15 '18 at 14:36

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