My previous blog post may have got your cogs churning about bringing your business into line with new Auto Enrolment pension legislation, required of all UK employers and with compliance deadlines fast approaching.
But as promised, Auto Enrolment doesn’t need to give you stage fright – there are some very straightforward ways of handling the whole thing smoothly.
And the first step in doing this? Know your staging date.
In other words, find out when your deadline for complying actually is… so that you can work towards it with plenty of time.
There isn’t a universal deadline by which all companies must comply. Your deadline – known as your staging date - is determined by the size of your payroll as at 1st April 2012 (even if this size has subsequently changed) and the first three letters of your PAYE reference. Creating a new PAYE reference does not mean you will be considered a ‘new employer’. Companies that have PAYE schemes that are shared by multiple employers will have the same staging date in most cases. For multiple companies within one organisation, it is the largest employer, as identified on 1st April 2012, that will dictate the staging date and this date will apply to all companies of that PAYE scheme.
You should receive confirmation of your staging date from the Pensions Regulator 12 months and then 3 months beforehand, but you can check your staging date yourself at www.thepensionregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date. (You will need your company PAYE ref).
If you are a new company please ensure you check on line too, your staging date my be earlier than you think.
It is possible to bring your staging date forward to an earlier date, on condition that you have a pension scheme already in place that meets Auto Enrolment requirements, and that you give The Pensions Regulator at least one month’s written notice prior to the earlier staging date.
So once you know your staging date, what can you do to successfully reach it?
Develop a plan!
It’s the key to success in any sphere: planning and preparation. It’s really quite straightforward to create your own Automatic Enrolment plan, setting things out as soon as possible so nothing gets missed. Things you might want to include in your plan:
- Nominate a point of contact: The Pensions Regulator requires this as mandatory. This contact should be the person with day-to-day responsibility for handling your company’s AE work. It doesn’t have to be someone within your staff – you can nominate an outside body such as Cashtrak (but do note the legal liability for non-compliance still lies with you as the employer).
- Check in with your accountant, as it’s unlikely your current arrangements with them will cover AE, unless you have previously discussed it. They will probably need to draft new agreements, explicitly stating responsibility and boundaries.
- Budget: plan ahead for likely pay increases and staff changes over the next few years, to enable you to project pension costs accurately.
- Decide on a pension scheme (or check your existing one qualifies).
- Prepare data well in advance to send to your chosen scheme provider.
- Prepare information carefully to communicate to employees, who may fall into several different categories so require different information.
- Set up the relevant payroll processes well ahead of your staging date.
- Get ready to manage people opting in and out of the scheme, so that it doesn’t overwhelm your inbox when it happens.
- Set up the required record-keeping processes and make sure your finance team are familiar with them.
The Pensions Regulator website has a useful timeline to help.
Or you may find it useful to use a specially-designed tool such as the one we use here at Cashtrak, BrightPay which enables you to easily and efficiently assess your workers, issue all the statutory communications and keep the necessary records.
Auto Enrolment is no dress rehearsal: keep your show on the road by planning ahead.