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How does working part-time affect my state pension?

3 mins read
by Unbiased Team
Last updated Monday, December 11, 2023

Working part-time can reduce how much state pension you can get if you have not contributed enough. Learn more about working part-time and state pensions.

If you’re working part-time, you may be worried about whether this will affect your state pension.

It’s worth reviewing your national insurance (NI) record, whether you’ve received any NI credits, and the importance of an additional private or workplace pension. 

What is the state pension? 

The state pension is a weekly payment from the government to qualifying people from the age of 66 (this will rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028).

You'll usually need at least 10 qualifying years on your NI record to get any state pension. 

Currently, the full new state pension is £203.85 per week for those who have met all the criteria.  

You can check your state pension forecast online

How do I qualify for the state pension? 

The state pension is based on your NI record, and to qualify, you generally need to have paid or have been credited with at least 35 qualifying years of contributions.  

A qualifying year is typically a tax year in which you earn above a certain threshold as shown below: 

  • Employed and earning over £242 per week

  • Employed and earning between £123 and £242 per week and are treated as having paid NI contributions 

If you’re self-employed, you can buy Class 2 NI contributions, which cost £3.45 per week.

Otherwise, you can make voluntary NI contributions that cost £17.45 per week. 

If you’re hoping to fill in missing gaps on your NI record from between 2006 and 2016, the deadline is 5 April 2024.  

What are NI credits? 

Not everyone is able to work all the time, but they may still qualify for a state pension.

Those who receive jobseeker’s allowance or child support payments may receive credits towards their state pension. 

So, if you work part-time and don’t meet the qualifying thresholds, then you may still be able to receive NI credits. 

How does the state pension work for part-time workers? 

When you work part-time, your NI contributions are based on your earnings. 

If your earnings are above £242 per week, you will generally accrue NI contributions for that tax year, regardless of whether you work full or part-time.  

But if your earnings fall below this limit, you may not accrue contributions for that period, but may still qualify for NI credits. 

It's important to stress that while each qualifying year contributes towards your state pension, the amount you receive is not directly linked to your individual contributions. 

The state pension is based on a complex calculation that takes into account your NI record over your working life. 

In some cases, you may be able to make voluntary NI contributions to fill any gaps in your record and increase your entitlement to the state pension.

This can be particularly useful if you have periods of part-time work or gaps in your employment history. 

Do I still need a private or workplace pension? 

While the state pension provides a basic income in retirement, it may not be sufficient to meet all your financial needs, particularly if you have gaps in your contribution record from working part-time. 

So, having additional private or workplace pensions is generally recommended to supplement your state pension and help maintain your standard of living.  

If you have access to a workplace pension, you’ll also benefit from employer contributions.

This means that both you and your employer will contribute a certain percentage of your salary into the pension scheme, which can significantly boost your retirement savings. 

Taking advantage of employer contributions is an opportunity to grow your pension savings effectively. 

Currently, the UK state pension has a so-called ‘triple lock’.

This is a guarantee by the government that the amount paid will not lose value over time by increasing by the highest of either average earnings, the consumer price index (CPI), or 2.5%. 

Private or workplace pensions can help protect against inflation, ensuring that your income maintains its purchasing power over time. 

It's important to consider your financial situation, retirement goals, and any regulations or tax implications when deciding whether to also open a private or workplace pension. 

Consulting with an independent financial adviser through Unbiased can provide personalised guidance based on your specific circumstances.

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Unbiased Team
Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing, retirement and pensions, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.