The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has won an important case concerning the eligibility for auto-enrolment of peripatetic workers, such as pilots and sailors, whose work moves them around different locations. This is the first case where TPR’s approach in relation to auto-enrolment has been subject to judicial review and is an important consideration for organisations employing staff working out of different locations.

Fleet Maritime Services (Bermuda) Ltd, an employer of cruise ship sailors, sought a judicial review challenging TPR’s assessment of the eligibility of peripatetic workers for auto-enrolment. It argued that most of its employees work in international waters and do not “ordinarily work in the UK” and so should not be covered by the legislation.

The High Court upheld TPR’s approach and confirmed that the appropriate test to apply to establish where a peripatetic worker “ordinarily works” is the “base” test and not the “employment contract” test. TPR had argued that the location of a peripatetic worker’s base is the primary consideration when deciding if he or she is a “jobholder” under the Pensions Act 2008 and not, as the employer had argued, the worker’s contract. Nevertheless, the judge found in favour of the employer in relation to workers who regularly begin and end their tours of duty in non-UK ports.