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How to fix submit pension contribution errors - Nest Pensions

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How to fix pension contribution errors when submitting to NEST Pension in Sage Payroll.


If you receive an error when you submit your pension contributions to Nest Pensions, use the steps below to help fix the issue.

We've provided an explanation for each error message, to help you understand the terminology Nest Pensions uses.

Detailed steps are listed to explain the cause of each error, and how to resolve them.

A glossary of common terms can also be found in this article.

Before you start

You may need to log into the Nest Pensions portal to compare employee information. We would recommend having login details to hand.

 NOTE: When you compare any details between Sage Payroll and Nest Pensions, they must be identical. This includes capital letters, lower case letters, special characters, leading or trailing spaces. 

To find the full error message:

  1. Select Summary.

  2. From the AutoEnrolment / Pensions section, locate the failed submission, then select View Submission Details.

NEST submit pension contribution errors

If you do not see the error you are experiencing visit the NEST website to view a further list of errors (opens in a new tab).

Submit pension contributions glossary

A list of common terms used by Nest Pensions, with an explanation of what each term means.


Contribution file Files that contain details of the pension contributions your employees’ make from their pay. You need to upload these to your pension provider each pay period.
Contribution schedule Files are created for every combination of tax period, group and payment source. Contribution files include employees who opt out of a pension scheme.
ERN (Employer Reference Number)

Your ERN (Employer Reference Number, sometimes called an Employer Reference) is a unique set of numbers and letters used by HMRC to identify employers in the UK

When you register as an employer with HMRC, you receive the ERN in your welcome pack.

Enrolment status and Enrolment types

Each type of worker has their own enrolment type.

NEST use an enrolment code to identify the type of worker when you enrol them:

  • AE – eligible jobholders

  • OPTIN – non-eligible jobholders

  • WWQE – workers without qualifying earnings, also known as entitled workers

  • VOLUNTARY – voluntary workers

  • OTHERS – Other types of worker

You need to tell NEST the enrolment type of each worker when you enrol them.


When you enrol your workers into a NEST pension scheme you’ll assign them to a group.

Groups are made up of workers who share:

  • A pay period, also known as an earnings period

  • A contribution rate and earnings basis

When setting up a group with NEST, how often you’ll pay contributions and the date you’ll pay them by.

Header or trailer record

The header and trailer are different sections of the contribution files you upload to your pension provider.

The header contains (amongst other things) details of the NEST Employer ID, the relevant pay period, the payment source and the pay frequency of the employees.

The trailer contains the group name for your pension scheme from Sage Payroll.

These fields have to match exactly with the details on the NEST portal.

Member enrolment file

Files containing any new employees enrolled for the relevant pay reference period, and personal information about the employees NEST need to enrol the onto the pension scheme.

These files are generated when you reach your staging date, or if you have new employees eligible to enrol in the pension scheme.

Enrolment files need to be uploaded before you upload a Contribution file.

NEST credentials Login details for the NEST website portal.
NEST employer ID

A unique reference number that’s associated with your organisation - for example EMP000123456.

This is case sensitive so make sure to use EMP and not emp when you enter this number anywhere in your account.

If you set up more than one scheme in NEST, for example one for each subsidiary organisation, then these will each have their own NEST employer IDs.

NEST delegate ID

An ID specific to the individual using the NESTaccount.

When you register for a NEST account and log in for the first time you’ll be given a NEST delegate ID.

Opt out reference number This reference is found on the notice to opt out of pension saving form, that the member submits to NEST.
PAPDIS PAPDIS (Payroll And Pension Data Interface Standard) is an open standard report, designed to help payroll systems transfer information to pension providers.
Pay reference period

Pay reference periods are aligned to HMRC tax periods.
Tax months run from the 6th of a month and ends on the 5th of the following month.
When you set up a pension scheme with your provider, advise them that your pay reference periods are aligned to tax periods.

Payment Schedule

Payment schedules show what you’ll pay your workers and by when.

You’ll see your payment schedule on the NEST portal, when you complete the setup.

NEST will send a message to your secure NEST mailbox confirming what you’ve agreed, with a copy of your payment schedule attached.

A payment schedule is a legally binding document that details the contributions you’ve agreed to pay to meet your legal duties.

You’ll receive a payment schedule to summarise the group settings for every group of workers in your NEST pension schemes.

Payment source

A payment source shows how you’re going to make contribution payments to NEST. You can choose to pay by Direct Debit or debit card.

The bank or building society details you use to pay contributions will be used by NEST to send any refunds to you.

Staging date Your staging date is the latest date by which you have to have an auto-enrolment scheme in place for your employees.



Related Solutions

For help adding a Nest pension scheme, read our article Add a NEST Pension Scheme.