Automatic enrolment: An update from The Pensions Regulator

In June 2015, the first of 1.3 million small and micro employers saw their automatic enrolment duties come into effect.

Thousands of small and micro employers reached their staging date in June and the remaining will see their duties start over the next two years.  Around two thirds of these will be micro employers – those with fewer than five workers.

Micro employers also include those who have just one worker, including employers of carers, personal assistants, gardeners and nannies and many of these employers will have limited experience of pensions. It is important that all employers understand:

i)                    that they have automatic enrolment duties

ii)                   that there are consequences if they do not comply and

iii)                 that The Pensions Regulator is here to help them.

Targeted information and tools for employers and their business advisers

The Pensions Regulator is continually reviewing and developing the tools and resources available to employers and their business advisers to ensure that they are suitable, relevant and easily accessible.

While awareness and understanding about automatic enrolment remains high among employers and advisers, there are gaps in knowledge. We know that the majority of small and micro employers are likely to ask their payroll bureaux, accountant or bookkeeper for help and our communications to advisers aim to target areas of knowledge which may be lacking.

Our research indicates that employers are likely to seek help in particular with the tasks of assessing workers and choosing a pension scheme. In addition to our existing suite of communications and tools to help with these tasks, the regulator is now working with stakeholders and professional bodies to introduce enhanced guidance and tools in the coming months.

Research also indicates that small and micro employers are likely to leave their automatic enrolment plans later than larger employers. While smaller employers have fewer staff, they are likely to have less pensions experience and they should leave plenty of time to plan and prepare. It’s also important to allow plenty of time to complete the declaration of compliance – leaving this to the last minute risks non-compliance.

Another key area where employers may need additional information is when using postponement.  Postponement is a flexibility often used by employers who have a temporary or seasonal workforce, and which allows employers to postpone assessing their workers for up to three months. There are a number of steps which must be taken to ensure the flexibility is used correctly to avoid non-compliance. Information to help ensure postponement is implemented correctly is available from The Pensions Regulator’s website.

Communicating to business advisers

The Pensions Regulator has also been working to ensure advisers have access to information in a variety of ways.

In addition to our work with professional bodies, we produce a monthly news-by-email which business advisers can sign up to in order to receive regular, relevant and useful information about news and events. You can subscribe to this via the link given below. June stories include:

  • What you need to know about seasonal summer workers
  • Webinar: what’s my role as a business adviser?
  • Video: automatic enrolment duties for sole director companies

We also produce regular bite-sized videos to communicate key AE messages, aimed specifically at business advisers. They are available on TPR’s You Tube Channel and include:

  • An introduction to automatic enrolment
  • How to plan for automatic enrolment
  • How to assess your client’s workforce for automatic enrolment
  • Automatic enrolment duties for sole director companies

The Pensions Regulator is also reaching employers and their advisers through social network channels. This includes hosting a monthly LinkedIn question and answer session where advisers can ask our panel of experts about automatic enrolment legislation and best practice.

The Pensions Regulator has recently launched a Facebook page, which includes YouTube videos (which cover key AE steps for both employers and business advisers), infographics, and also the latest news and events from TPR. To view the page, go to www.facebook.com/ThePensionsRegulator.

Useful links
The Pensions Regulator – www.tpr/gov/uk
Online guide to automatic enrolment for business advisers – www.tpr.gov.uk/essential-guide  Information on postponement – www.tpr/gov.uk/postponement
Subscribe to The Pensions Regulator’s News-by-Email: Spotlight on AE – www.tpr.gov.uk/subscribe
YouTube – www.youtube.com/user/thepensionsregulator
Webinars and LinkedIn Q&As – www.tpr.gov.uk/events

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