We don’t have a big fluffy purple monster or a catchy slogan about automatic enrolment. There’s no gimmick or slick sales patter.

Maybe we should have these things, maybe we shouldn’t – but that’s not really the point. The current TV campaign from The Pensions Regulator features said purple monster and the slogan ‘Don’t ignore the workplace pension’.

Perhaps the advertising so far for this major legislative change affecting every business in the UK with employees has somewhat fallen on deaf ears.

As a business owner your main concerns are no doubt making a decent profit, paying the staff, paying your bills, growing the business, keeping existing clients happy and finding new ones. Understandably setting up and paying into a pension scheme for the staff is probably low down on your list of priorities. After all, it’s an extra cost forced upon you and they are never welcome.

However, the reality is that if you have employees and don’t set up a pension scheme by your ‘Staging Date’ you’ll end up being fined for something you probably didn’t know much about. Is it possible that you have seen letters from The Pensions Regulator and ignored them or not read them properly? Either because you are too busy or ‘surely this doesn’t apply to me’ or ‘I’ve asked the staff, none of them want a pension so I don’t have to do anything’.

The simple fact is that if you have staff you can’t ignore or dismiss this as it will not go away.

Anyone that has a PAYE scheme (including Directors only PAYE schemes) still has to act in one way or another on the letters sent from The Pensions Regulator or seek help from someone to tackle it for them.

Here’s a few examples and guidance on what you need to do:

    1. If you are a Director and the only person on the payroll or there are a few Directors but none has an employment contract you still have to tell The Pensions Regulator that you’re not an employer by completing an online form. See the link here for your staging date.
    2. If you are a Director and your spouse/partner is on the payroll as an employee – you’ll need a pension scheme set up even if no one is going to join it. As an employee they have the right to request to join a pension scheme and you both then have to pay into it. 

      This might seem like bureaucracy gone mad but this is now law.

    3. If you have staff and you know your staging date, you need a pension scheme in place by that date. The staff then have to be assessed (on the first pay day immediately after your staging date) and will either be enrolled into the pension or can request to join your pension scheme. If they have been automatically enrolled they then have 30 days from their assessment date to opt out if they wish to. You can’t coerce them to leave the pension. If you’ve spoken to them already and none of the staff want a pension you still have to set one up anyway, they all have to then opt out of it – that’s why it’s called automatic enrolment.
    4. If your staging date has passed, you have 6 weeks from that date to write to all staff to tell them you are postponing their assessment (and what you write has to meet compliance requirements), which you can do for up to three months after the initial date. So if your staging date is 1st August you can push this back to 1st November and enrol your staff when you assess them on pay day in November.

If points 2, 3 or 4 apply to you, you will also have to compete a ‘Declaration of Compliance’ which is an online form on The Pensions Regulator’s website, which requires information from you to prove that you have complied with the rules.

The good news is that these are all things that we are helping clients with right now and could also help you with too. If you’ve been putting off dealing with this or maybe you’d like to be prepared in advance why not give us a call and find out how we can help you! Call Paul Wood on 01474 853856 or visit our Auto Enrolment website for more information.

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