The automatic enrolment programme is being rolled out in stages, with largest employers having been affected first. However it will soon be the turn
of SMEs to ensure they are complying with the AE legislation.
NEST (National Employment Savings Trust) has been established specifically for automatic enrolment to ensure there will be an easy-to-use, low-charge pension scheme available to all UK employers to help them meet their new duties. Here, NEST shares the Top 5 Tips from employers who have already met their duties to help you navigate your way through the new legislation.
Tip 1 - Plan early
Do not underestimate how long it will take; talk to your payroll and other providers as soon as possible. NEST experience indicates that just over half (53%) of employers have spent more than 10 months preparing for the reforms with almost a quarter (24%) taking more than 16 months. Conflictingly, research from NEST shows that there are a number of triggers that galvanise employers into starting their automatic enrolment planning, namely:
- When they are back from summer holidays
- It’s after their year-end (when they’re busy)
- They’ve completed another project (for example RTI)
- 1st January (start of calendar year).
The message from NEST is you may need more time than you think so plan the time in your diary rather than relying on natural breaks in your working schedule.
Tip 2 - Assess your workforce to understand which of your workers are affected
There are three types of workers, eligible, entitled and non-eligible. By carrying out a worker assessment you can identify which category each of your workers belongs to and your responsibility to them. This will make your job much easier when you need to automatically enroll your workforce.
The Pensions Regulator has guides to help you with this.
Tip 3 - Communicate with staff clearly and early
Communication is essential, you should communicate with staff clearly and early, have a communication plan and involve all relevant departments in your business. By using effective communication at the start, you can save time-consuming questions later. NEST has developed tools and templates to help employers get messages across to their workers.
By 2018 all employers must have a scheme in place. You need to know when the duties apply to your organisation and which workers you’ll have to enrol. To find out when your scheme needs to be in place go to www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date.aspx
Tip 4 - Examine systems, particularly payroll
Examine systems, particularly payroll, to ensure they are ready and capable for your automatic enrolment needs. Karen Thomson, Associate Director of Policy, Research, and Strategic Visibility at the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP), comments: “Automatic enrolment has required investment in payroll processes and systems, whether in-house or outsourced. The payroll function is best placed to examine the age and earnings of a workforce and determine the number of workers to be automatically enrolled. In addition, payroll can establish the date that workers become ‘eligible’ for contributions, calculating those contributions and managing refunds to workers who’ve opted out.”
It is essential that your payroll system can stand up to these new challenges and functions; you need to take the time to examine them properly – if they aren’t doing the job, act fast to rectify the situation.
Tip 5 - Seek advice if you need it
Do not be afraid to ask for help. In the first instance, check out www.nestpensions.org.uk/employers for information about automatic enrolment and how NEST can help you at no cost to yourself.
It is vital to explain the changes to your staff so they know how this will affect them