Around half a million UK employers with fewer than 30 employees will be required to enrol eligible staff into a pension – and start paying into it – during 2016. All employers have been given an automatic enrolment date, called a ‘staging date’, which is when they must ensure workers are signed up to the pension.
Under the new pension auto-enrolment rules employers will have to initially pay 1% towards the pension, rising to 2% in October 2017 and 3% from September 2018.
The pension auto-enrolment rules were first introduced in 2012 and affected just the very largest employers. With the legislation now encompassing smaller employers, this year we will see tens of thousands staging each month.
Between January and March nearly 100,000 employers will need to enrol employees into a pension. And this includes people hiring carers, nannies and gardens – providing they meet the eligibility criteria.
The Pension Regulator has stated that it does expect to use its statutory powers more in the months to come. These powers include a £400 fixed penalty, plus a daily fine of £50 to £500 for persistent failure to meet the requirements.
You may have already had a letter from The Pension Regulator telling you about your staging date or asking you to nominate a contact – please don’t ignore these! The more time you can give to the planning process, the better able you are to mitigate both the time and cost impact on your business.
Pension auto-enrolment isn’t going away but, by acting promptly, you can make the process less painful. Here are Clayton & Brewill’s top tips on preparing your business for the new workplace pension rules:
If it’s in 2016 you should have already had a letter from the regulator. If you haven’t had a letter you can find out your staging dates here – you will need to have your PAYE reference number handy.
With many schemes filling up quickly, businesses need to be talking to pension providers at least 12 months before their staging date.
Make sure you have up-to-date employee contact details, including an email address where possible, date of birth and national insurance number. And work out a method for keeping this clean, as inaccurate or missing payroll data can cause you a headache down the line.
We recommend that you plan for a ‘parallel payroll’ the first time – Dunelm paid the price for system failure with a hefty non-compliance penalty and some unwelcome publicity.
Employees will have to contribute a minimum of 1% of their qualifying earnings, increasing to 5% over time so you need to allow them to plan ahead for the change in their take home pay. Set a strategy for internal communications with key communication milestones. And consider remote workers, those who don’t have English as a first language or who may have difficulty reading the notices.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Pensions Regulator is promising to be quick to impose a fine for non-compliance so make sure you are the first to know of any problems!
Sounds simple, but think about anyone on long-term sick, on parental leave or employees on remote sites.
Payrolls will take longer under auto-enrolment so it may help you to allow more time for additional pay calculations.