I’ve missed my auto enrolment staging date – what should I do?

Staging datePerhaps letters from The Pensions Regulator slipped through the net. It could be that your finance guru recently left the company. Maybe you just didn’t realise what it all meant. Whatever the reason, you’ve missed your deadline for complying with auto enrolment (otherwise known as a “staging date”) and you’re wondering what to do next.

First of all, don’t panic. Although missing your staging date isn’t ideal, you’re not the only company to fail to hit your deadline for putting your staff into a workplace pension scheme. However, if you have missed your staging date, it’s important that you set up a workplace pension as soon as possible. It is the law and The Pensions Regulator has the power to introduce heavy fines for companies, which don’t comply with auto enrolment.

The good news is that there are three simple steps you can take to get back on track.

1. Act fast

If your staging date has passed but you are still within 6 weeks and 1 day of the deadline, you may be able to use “postponement” to avoid breaching the legislation. Postponement allows you to postpone auto enrolment for up to 3 months. But, you’ll need to act fast as if postponement notices aren’t issued within this period then your right to postpone will be removed.

The next thing to do is decide which workplace pension provider you want to use. It’s an important decision that can have long lasting consequences not only for your workforce but also for your business, and therefore shouldn’t be rushed. The fact that you may have missed your staging date doesn’t make the decision any less important or the consequences of selecting the “wrong” pension provider any less impactful. But it’s probably a good idea to run through the criteria a bit faster.

Not all pension providers are willing to accept all firms for auto enrolment, let alone if you have missed your auto enrolment staging date. But a small number of providers are open to everyone –including NOW: Pensions.

2. Get in touch with The Pensions Regulator

If you’ve missed your staging date, be proactive and contact The Pensions Regulator before they contact you to let them know you’re trying to set up a scheme as soon as possible. Once you have chosen your provider, you will need to let them know who it is.

3. Rectify the situation

The Pensions Regulator will ask you to make up for the months when you haven’t been compliant with auto enrolment. If you are under three months past your staging date, The Pensions Regulator requires you to deduct the employee contributions from your staff and pay these across to your pension provider along with the employer contributions from the date your members of staff should have been enrolled. But, if it is more than three months from the enrolment date, The Pensions Regulator has the power to make you pay for the employee part of the contribution as well as your employer contribution. The regulator can also insist that you pay interest on top of those contributions. A situation definitely best avoided.

With those three steps ticked off the list, you will be in a much better situation – and your staff’s retirement prospects will be improved, too. If you have missed your staging date follow this step-by-step guide to get back on track in no time.

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