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Leaving your pension scheme if you've been automatically enrolled
Leaving your pension scheme if you've been automatically enrolled

How to opt out or cease membership of the scheme, and what happens when you do.

Written by Smart Pension Support
Updated over a week ago

Opting-out or ceasing membership are both big decisions and could have a significant impact on your financial future. By leaving your workplace pension scheme, you will miss out on pension contributions from your employer. Be aware that there are specific rules on re-joining so please think carefully.

Before you decide, take a look at the reasons to stay with Smart Pension.

There are two different ways to leave a pension scheme. Which one you use will depend on how long you've been a member.

  • If you're automatically enrolled by your employer but you don't want to be a part of the scheme, you can opt out of membership if you've been a member for less than a month. You'll receive a refund for any contributions you've made.

  • If you've been a member of the scheme for more than one month, but want to stop making contributions, you need to cease membership. Your contributions and your employer's contributions will stay invested.

How to leave a Smart Pension scheme

  1. Sign in and select the Stop paying in button at the bottom of the page.

  2. You will be taken to the “Stop paying in to this pension” page, from here click on the Cease membership of this pension scheme button. If you are in the opt out window, as mentioned above, the steps will be the same but it will refer to opting out rather than ceasing membership.

  3. You should read the information on the next page carefully, and if you still want to cease membership, tick the boxes which confirm you are the scheme member and have understood the consequences and click on Cease membership.

  4. A final warning pop up will appear. Type "I wish to cease membership" in the box, to confirm. Then, click the red Cease membership button.

Depending on whether you opt out or cease membership, there are some differences in what happens next.

Opting out

To opt out of a pension scheme, you need to tell us you want to leave within one month of being automatically enrolled. This is the opt out window. If you leave in the opt out window, you'll get a refund on any contributions you've made so far. The refund will come through your employer.

If you choose to opt out of your workplace pension scheme, you can request to opt in again at any time, but your employer only has to accept your request once every 12 months.

Ceasing membership

If you leave your pension scheme after the opt out window has ended, you won't get a refund on any of your contributions. This money – including any employer contributions – will stay invested.

If you decide you want to rejoin, you can ask your employer at any time. They might not accept this request if you leave and try to rejoin multiple times in a twelve-month period.


If you carry on working for the same employer, they will check whether you need to be re-enrolled roughly every three years from when they first set up a workplace pension scheme. If you opted out less than a year from when they carry out re-enrolment, they won't include you in these checks, but they will include you the next time.

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