The introduction of automatic enrolment for workplace pensions is intended to ensure that the majority of employees in the UK are offered the chance to be part of a work based pension scheme. Automatic enrolment into workplace pensions has been rolling out across the UK since 2012.
However, the first batch of small and micro employers with 30 or less employers only began to enrol in the scheme on 1 June 2015. There are estimated to be 1.8 million small and micro employers in the UK. It is expected that all employers will be part of the scheme by February 2018.
The Pensions Regulator is in the process of mailing almost 100,000 small and micro employers with less than six months to go until their staging date to remind them that they need to choose a new pension scheme or check if an existing scheme can be used for automatic enrolment.
Staging dates are based on the size of an employer’s PAYE scheme as at 1 April 2012. Most small and micro employers with less than 50 employees will commence the process between 1 June 2015 and 1 April 2017. Recent research by NOW: Pensions has revealed that from April – June 2016, some 40% of employers signed up to a pension provider either very close to their staging date or after their deadline had already passed.
Employers failing to comply with their auto-enrolment duties and missing their staging date can trigger statutory notices, fixed penalties and even court action. We would urge all employers to check their staging date and ensure they are properly prepared to be able to offer their staff a pension scheme in a timely manner.