Using salary exchange to help mitigate the increase in National Insurance contributions

On 6 April 2022, the Government increased National Insurance contributions. In this case study we look at how salary exchange could help employers to mitigate the cost of the increase.

What is the increase?

On 6 April 2022, the Government introduced a temporary increase to National Insurance contributions.

This 1.25% increase means:

  • Class 1A and 1B employers will pay 15.05%.
  • Class 1 employees earning below National Insurance contributions upper earnings limit will pay 13.25%.
  • Class 1 employees earning above the National Insurance contributions upper earnings limit will pay 3.25%.

You can find out more information on the National Insurance classes at National Insurance: National Insurance classes - GOV.UK ( 

From 6 April 2023 this increase is being replaced by a new tax named the Health and Social Care Levy which will apply to both employers and employees, including those above the state pension age, at a rate of 1.25% each. The levy will have the same thresholds and requirements as the qualifying National Insurance contributions.

How can salary exchange help mitigate the increase?

Employer case study

Let’s take a look at an employer with an average wage bill of £3,000,000 a year. We’ve based our example on 100 employees with an average salary of £30,000. 

Tax yearTotal employer National Insurance contributions bill
2021/22 £292,008
2022/23 £314,545
Increase: £22,537

 Their current scheme is set up using relief at source and their employees are paying £150,000 (£3,000,000 x 5%) in pension contributions. This is based on employees paying a 5% contribution. 

By setting up their pension using salary exchange, the employer could save £22,575 (£150,000 x 15.05%) a year on their National Insurance contributions. This means the employer can mitigate the full amount of the increase through adopting salary exchange.

Employee case study

Let’s see how this works for an employee. We’ve based this example on an employee who lives in England, who earns £30,000 a year, has a personal allowance of £12,570 and is paying a 5% pension contribution. The employer is not reinvesting the National Insurance savings into the workplace pension scheme.  

Monthly 2021/2022
Gross pay Income tax National Insurance Pension Take home pay
£2,500 £290.50 £204.32 £100 £1,905.18
Monthly 2022/2023
Gross pay Income tax National Insurance Pension Take home pay
£2,500 £290.50 £222.16 £100 £1,887.34
Increase £17.84

Using salary exchange

Monthly 2022/23
Gross pay Income tax National Insurance Pension Take home pay
£2,375 £265.50 £205.60 £0 £1,903.90

Before salary exchange the employee was paying a pension contribution of £100 a month through relief at source. When this is paid into the pension plan it is grossed up to £125. Using salary exchange the employee sacrifices £125 a month reducing their salary from £2,500 to £2,375 a month.

By contributing to their pension through salary exchange, this employee can mitigate most of the increase and reduce the cost to them to £1.28 a month (£1905.18 - £1903.90).

Further information 

Salary Exchange - frequently asked questions - Royal London for advisers

How to get 61.5% tax relief on pension contributions - Royal London for advisers

60% tax relief on pension contributions - Royal London for advisers

National Insurance rates and earnings limits from 6 April 2016 - Royal London for advisers



The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.

Share by email:

This website is intended for financial advisers only and shouldn't be relied upon by any other person. If you are not an adviser please visit

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.