For any employer, preparing for your auto enrolment journey can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. The key to auto enrolment is preparation. If you have the right set-ups and processes in place before your staging date, you could save yourself a substantial amount of time, money and stress. And of course, we all know that a little extra effort up front will cause a lot less work down the line…
The Pensions Regulator suggests that you begin planning for auto enrolment twelve months before your staging date and we’re here to help you get started right.
So dive in, here’s a step-by-step of what to expect from the start of your journey and beyond:
Know your staging date – when to act
Your staging date is the date in which your auto enrolment duties come into effect. If you don’t take action, it could lead to fines from The Pensions Regulator.
In order to find out your staging date you will need your PAYE reference which can be found on HMRC papers. If you don’t pay your staff through a PAYE scheme, your staging date will be 1 April 2017. When is my staging date?
Assess your workforce
Employers must assess every member of their workforce to identify into which category of worker they fall. This will determine what duties the employer will have in relation to each of those workers.
Have a look at our introduction to auto enrolment for more information.
*Please Bear in mind* If circumstances change and your non-eligible staff become eligible, they will need to be automatically enrolled.
Review your pension arrangements
Do you already have a pension provider set up for your business? If so, you need to check that it qualifies for auto enrolment and that your provider is happy to extend it to your entire workforce. If you don’t already have a pension scheme in place or your current scheme doesn’t qualify, you will need to find yourself a new provider.
Please see our top tips on choosing the perfect pension provider for more information.
Check that your current or proposed pension scheme provider is compatible with your payroll system as this will make it easier to transfer data between the two. If you use payroll software, check that it’s designed to carry out automatic enrolment tasks to help you comply with your ongoing duties. If it doesn’t, you should consider updating your software.
At your staging date and beyond
Communicate the changes to all your workers
As an employer, it’s up to you to make all of your workers aware of the changes and explain how they will be affected. This communication needs to be in writing, can include being sent by email and must be specific to the individual. You will have 6 weeks from your staging date to do so.
There are some pension providers out there that are able to help with employee communications but not all, so make sure to look around before settling for second best.
Register with The Pensions Regulator and keep records
All companies must register with The Pensions Regulator within 5 months after their staging date to confirm they are fulfilling their auto enrolment duties. This is also known as a Declaration of Compliance. You will be required to complete an online form to prove you have complied with the legislation and will need to mention how many workers you have enrolled and what provider you have selected.
Be warned, there are fines for those who do not declare their compliance on time. It’s also worth noting that auto enrolment records, need to be kept for a minimum of six years, although opt out records only need to be kept for four years.
Automatically enrol your ‘eligible jobholders’
At this point you will be required to supply certain information about your eligible workers to your chosen pension provider. This is where the payroll file is uploaded onto the relevant system.
It’s very important that payroll information is accurate, especially if working with weekly payrolls and tight turnarounds. It’s important to find an auto enrolment solution that can work with your payroll. If you outsource your payroll, it may be worth asking which pension providers they work with to ensure the smoothest transition.
With auto enrolment, there’s a lot to think about but a little planning can go a long way and make a really big difference.