Top tips for staying auto enrolment compliant

Avoid finesKeeping on top of the ongoing responsibilities involved with auto enrolment is a legal requirement that shouldn’t be ignored. These responsibilities involve certain tasks that will need to be completed continuously after you have reached your staging date. Failure to take on these duties can result in nasty fines from The Pensions Regulator. From 1 October to 31 December 2015, The Pensions Regulator issued 2,596 notices to employers who did not comply with their ongoing duties. To avoid any fines in the future familiarise yourself with the ongoing duties below.

Keep up to date records for your employees and your pension scheme

Changes to an employee’s circumstances such as moving home, changing jobs or a change in marital status will happen at some point while they are employed by you. Data must be accurate so ensure that you have the right processes in place to manage the flow of information between you and your employees. This information is usually held in your payroll software and is the information that you submit to us through a file each pay period. These records will need to be kept for a minimum of six years except for opt out records which must be kept for four years.

Work out who should be put into the pension scheme each month

At each pay period you will need to monitor existing and new employee’s age and earnings to assess who is eligible to be put into the pension scheme. In many cases, your payroll software should be able to help you with this. Contact your payroll software provider if in doubt.

Enrol workers and write to them

It’s your legal duty to offer joining rights to workers who are not auto enrolled and send out information about auto enrolment at the right time. There will be instances where your employees will be opting in, opting out, leaving or joining and communications will need to be issued to them. However, if you have selected NOW: Pensions to issue communications then we can do this for you but to do this we will need you to successfully submit your data to us using your online portal. The Pensions Regulator allows a maximum of 6 weeks to issue the statutory communications and if this is not done you can also lose the right to use postponement.

The most efficient and cost effective way to send communications is via email so please make sure you have email addresses for all your employees. We can send communications by post but you will incur a print and post charge. Alternatively, we can send individual employee communications to a generic email address, as a PDF, for onward delivery by you. Each separate PDF communication will be delivered to your generic email address individually instead of all documents being sent as a batch, making it easier for you to identify which employee should receive the communication.

For details on how you can activate PDF communications click here.

Pay contributions to their pension scheme

You must upload payroll files within 10 working days of contributions being deducted from an employee’s pay. Following upload of the payroll files, NOW: Pensions will deduct contributions by direct debit from your bank account. You will be notified in advance of the contribution amount and payment date.

Pension providers are required by law to report gaps in paying contributions that are of material significance to The Pensions Regulator, including where contributions are more than 90 days late. Failure to pay contributions can result in a significant fine from The Pensions Regulator.

Process any requests to opt in, join or leave the scheme

Sometimes employees who are not automatically enrolled into the pension scheme will ask to join and alternatively you may have employees who ask to leave the scheme. These requests must be dealt with promptly and failure to process your employees’ requests will make you non-compliant.

Auto re-enrol your employees every three years

This means that you will need to follow the same process and carry out the same duties as you did when you reached your staging date. More information about re-enrolment can be found in the help centre on the nowpensions.com website.

How much will I get fined if I don’t comply?

If you don’t comply, the regulator can select from one or more enforcement options to ensure compliance ranging from warning letters, statutory compliance notices and monetary penalties to criminal prosecution.

For every day that your company doesn’t comply and continues to break regulations there may be a fine based on the number of employees you have as listed below.

Number of employees Daily non-compliance fine
500 + £10,000
250 – 499 £5,000
50 – 249 £2,500
5 – 49 £500
1 – 4 £50

 

There are also penalties if a job applicant’s success depends on whether or not they opt out of a pension scheme, otherwise known as by The Pensions Regulator as prohibited recruitment conduct.

 

Number of employees Penalty
250 + £5,000
50 – 249 £2,500
5 – 49 £1,500
1 – 4 £1,000

A common reason for fines is due to employers not declaring their compliance with The Pensions Regulator – this has to be completed within five months from their staging date and again after re-enrolment which is every 3 years by using The Pensions Regulator’s website.

If you are unsure about your employer duties, The Pensions Regulator has created an online duties checker which can be found here.

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