Are you a supply teacher looking to start paying into a pension scheme? This article examines some of the challenges encountered by supply teachers wishing to pay into pension schemes and some alternatives that you can try. The following topics are covered:

●        Paying into a pension scheme

●        Legislation

●        Eligibility

●        Directly employed supply teachers

●        Supply teachers working through agencies

●        How to invest your money

●        Teachers trained overseas

Paying into a pension scheme

Unfortunately, agency supply teachers are not eligible for the Teachers’ Pension. However, these teachers should receive a Workplace Pension through their agency. The Teachers’ Pension is different from the state pension and is managed by the Teachers’ Pension Agency.

The Teachers’ Pension Agency only applies to teachers who work within schools, either as permanent staff or direct supply teachers. In general, supply teachers are not eligible for a pension. However, some supply teacher agencies offer a pension scheme for supply teachers. Alternatively, supply teachers can enroll in an auto-enrolment pension scheme. We will take a look at some of the other options below.

Changes in legislation

While most people will be entitled to some form of state pension once they reach retirement age, there has been a change in retirement conditions due to the ageing population and a decline in the number of people investing in private pensions.

This potentially represents a huge problem for the future. Many economists have forecast a pension time-bomb, and financial analysts have expressed concerns about the future of pensioners, suggesting that many will not have enough money to live on.

To address this problem, new legislation was introduced in 2012, and made applicable to all UK employers. The legislation aimed to ensure that all UK-based workers have the opportunity to access a workplace pension. This applies to all workers aged over 22 and earning more than £10,000 a year. 

The government created a pension calculator that helps employers and employees calculate when they need to enroll in a pension scheme. The employer must pay a minimum pension contribution of 3% of the employee’s qualifying earnings, whilst the employee must pay 4% of their weekly salary.


Anyone under the age of 75 in the UK is eligible to contribute to a pension scheme. Most UK residents will also qualify for a state pension, which currently consists of £168.60 per week. In addition, many contractors will supplement their state pension with a personal or company pension to improve their future retirement income and save on current tax liabilities.

Directly employed supply teachers

If you are employed either directly by the school in which you work in or by the local authority, you qualify for the Teachers’ Pension scheme. This is true even if you are a supply teacher and are paid on an hourly basis.

If you are employed directly, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme forms a part of your remuneration package. This is why it is essential to understand what being a part of the scheme means for you.

When you start work, you will be enrolled in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, and you will be paying into your pension from your very first pay slip, as will your employer. In addition, you will be given an online account where you can access your details 24/7.

Supply teachers working through agencies

If you are employed through a supply agency, you will not be permitted to participate in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and cannot benefit from it.  However, the law makes provision for your circumstances and all employers, including supply agencies, are required to offer workplace pensions.

If you have more than one employer and each employer decides to enroll, you will be working for several different agencies, resulting in several different pension pots. This is not a particularly efficient way of saving your pension money.

Working for an umbrella company

Working under an umbrella company has several advantages:

●        They help find and manage clients for you

●        They take care of your taxes

●        They are paid for your work, and they employ you

●        They do all of the administrative tasks involved

However, you will only be enrolled in one pension, and you will have less control over your finances.

Making your own arrangements

If you want to make your pension investments, you can opt out of the auto-enrolment pension. However, you must wait until the enrollment process has been completed, as your employer has to enroll the employees who qualify.

Overseas teachers

If you have lived abroad and are planning on coming to stay in the UK temporarily, your employer will still have to enroll you in the pension scheme if you meet the qualifying criteria. Once you are registered, you can decide whether or not you want to stay on the scheme. You must find a scheme that suits you because some pension schemes are happy to transfer your money abroad if you work overseas in the future.  

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