On 04 December 2018, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) produced their ‘Review of the automatic enrolment earnings trigger and qualifying earnings bands for 2019/20’ supporting analysis.

This contained proposals that:

  • The QEBs should remain linked with the National Insurance thresholds (Lower and Upper Earnings Limit)
  • The Earnings Trigger should be maintained at £10,000
The Legislation

The complications of devolution mean that the DWP owns the overall policy of reviewing and proposing amendments to the thresholds.  However, the Department for Communities (DfC) implements the policy in Northern Ireland but has no power to set different thresholds.

Yet, we always like to see this in legislation and, in this regard, we are always looking at two pieces of legislation, one from Great Britain and one for Northern Ireland.  Both are now available:

  1. The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order 2019 laid by the DWP in Great Britain under provisions in the Pensions Act 2008
  2. The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) 2019 laid by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland under provisions in the Pensions (No. 2) Act (Northern Ireland) 2008
The Effect

With both of the necessary Orders in place, payroll and software professionals know with certainty that the 2018 Orders are revoked and the following annual thresholds have been set from 06 April 2019:

Annual Threshold 2019/20
QEB Lower Limit £6,136 (the value of the LEL)
QEB Upper Limit £50,000 (the value of the UEL)
Earnings Trigger £10,000


For common Pay Reference Periods, the above Orders translate as follows:


Auto-Enrolment Thresholds 2019/20
Weekly 2 Weekly 4 Weekly Monthly Quarterly 6 Monthly
QEB Lower Limit (LEL) £118 £236 £472 £512 £1,534 £3,068
QEB Upper Limit (UEL) £962 £1,924 £3,847 £4,167 £12,500 £25,000
Earnings Trigger £192 £384 £768 £833 £2,499 £4,998


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