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Salary Exchange
How does salary exchange work
Can I stop Salary Exchange at any point?
Can I stop Salary Exchange at any point?
Rachele Carraro avatar
Written by Rachele Carraro
Updated over a week ago

It's important to know that when you enter into a Salary Exchange agreement there is a change in your contract, to give up part of your salary for a non-cash benefit, such as a pension contribution.

As such there a couple of scenarios you should be aware of:

Increasing my pension contributions / taking another benefit like cycle to work

Once your contract is set up to accept salary exchange, it is very easy to make exchanges for additional non-cash benefits (like increases in pension contributions).

Each time you take on or amend a benefit, your 'Reference pay' will remain the same but 'Gross Pay' will be reduced and the money exchanged into the benefit.

Reversing salary exchange and returning to 'net pay' pension contributions

When using salary sacrifice as a pension deduction, you are permitted to opt in and out of the scheme. However, your employer may restrict the amount of times you can do this in a 12 month period due to higher levels of administration.

You may reduce your pension contribution but only in certain circumstances. HMRC accepts that certain ‘lifestyle changes’ may justify changing a salary exchange arrangement before the intended duration has elapsed.

There are no legal definitions of what a lifestyle change is, but it is generally intended to refer to unforeseen life events that will materially alter your financial position. At this time your your employer might agree with you to revisit the salary exchange arrangement to take account of the change in circumstances.

This may happen if the employee has a salary sacrifice arrangement for a set period and within that period an event happens that means the arrangement is no longer suitable.

A full list of acceptable lifestyle changes is given below, but if you suffer consequences of an event not listed you may still be able to make a change if your employer agrees:

  • Marriage or entering a civil partnership

  • Divorce or dissolving a civil partnership

  • Birth, adoption or death of a dependant child

  • A significant increase in salary (greater than 10%)

  • Any decrease in salary

  • A house move resulting in an increased mortgage or rental commitment

  • Any significant leave of absence agreed with your employer such as maternity, paternity, long term sick leave or a sabbatical

Also when you receive a promotion or demotion your contract naturally changes so will be able to alter at these points.

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