I started working for my current employer in a casual capacity in August 2011 but went to permanent in November 2012. Someone has pointed out to me recently that when I became permanent, I should have been auto-enrolled into KiwiSaver by my employer. So I asked my employer why wasn't I auto-enrolled, and they said my appointment letter had a section on joining KiwiSaver and it was up to me to opt in. I never gave it much thought at the time, but now I realise what I have missed out on for all these years. Should I have been auto-enrolled in 2012?
Most eligible employees are auto-enrolled into KiwiSaver when they start a new job. This has resulted in more people joining KiwiSaver than would have been the case if it had been left to individuals to sign up for themselves.
Inland Revenue has a 36 page booklet KiwiSaver - an employer guide to help employers meet their obligations. This includes information on who is eligible to join KiwiSaver and, of these, who should be auto-enrolled.
Four main categories of workers are not auto-enrolled. First, if a person is employed as a casual agricultural worker; second, if they are employed for a period of 28 continuous days or less (including weekends/days off); third, if they are employed on an intermittent or irregular basis that makes it impractical for the employer to provide them with four weeks annual holidays, and so pays them holiday pay with their wages; and fourth if they are under 18 years of age.
In your case, you were first employed on a casual basis. Because of this, you were not auto-enrolled into KiwiSaver - although you could have joined at any time by filling in a KS2 form.
However, in November 2012 your work situation changed and you were given a permanent contract. I asked Inland Revenue to explain the rules for casual employees whose situation changes.
A spokesperson replied: "If an employee fits into the third category, they'll be a casual worker in respect of KiwiSaver and so not subject to automatic enrolment, even if they work for the same employer for more than 28 days.
If they start working a regular pattern of hours over a period of time, however, they may not be a casual employee any more - because they're not working on an irregular/intermittent basis anymore. In that case the KiwiSaver automatic enrolment rules would apply from the time the nature of their employment changed.
For example, Melissa has a job gardening at a retirement village. She's employed by the company that runs the retirement village, but only works when they need her. Because her hours of work aren't regular, it's hard for her employer to work out her holiday entitlements on a yearly basis - so instead they pay her holiday pay every time they pay her wages.
This means she's a casual employee for KiwiSaver purposes, and her employer doesn't need to automatically enrol her in KiwiSaver.
After Melissa has been working for a few months, it is clear that there is a pattern emerging in the times she needs to work. She meets with her employer and they agree that she's actually a part-time worker, and her hours of work are set.
At this point Melissa is no longer a casual employee, and her employer automatically enrols her in KiwiSaver."
Anyone who believes that their employer has not fulfilled their KiwiSaver obligations can follow up, either by speaking directly to their employer or by contacting Inland Revenue.
Those who do not wish to do this can sign up for KiwiSaver either directly through a provider or by filling in a KS2 form.
- Shelley Hanna is an authorised financial adviser FSP12241. Her free disclosure statement is available on request by calling 06 870 3838 or go to www.peak.net.nz. The information in this article is general and is not personalised. Send your KiwiSaver questions to email@example.com