Automatic enrolment started in October. A slice of an employee’s pay packet is
automatically diverted to a savings pot for their pension, assuming they are
aged 22 or over and earning at least £9,440 a year.
Employers are obliged to pay in as well, with the government adding a little extra through tax relief.
Those who already save in a workplace pension scheme or are self-employed are not signed up.
Experts and ministers say it is vital people make a start at an early stage in their working lives, to eventually have savings that will top up the state pension.
But staff have an option to opt out of being automatically enrolled, if they would rather save or spend in their own way.
Now the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published its research for the first time about how the system has worked among large firms.
Data from 42 companies showed that 9% of people who would have been signed up have opted out.
Staff who work for the biggest businesses have been included in the early stages of the project.
Some workplaces in the first wave had opt-out rates of only 5%, while others had 15% turning down the scheme. The average was 9%. The highest opt-out rates were among the over-50s.
The research only looks at the very first firms to be included in the scheme, whereas some 1,000 companies are now involved.
The surge of businesses coming into the scheme occurs next year.
He added that the amount of money set aside for a pension under auto-enrolment might be insufficient for a decent retirement income.
Many people do not qualify for automatic enrolment, notably low-income women, as they do not earn above the income threshold of £9,440 to be signed up.