Get Ready for the Call on Auto-enrolment

August 5, 2015

By Louise Downes, Payroll Supervisor at RMT Accountants & Business Advisors Ltd

I’m fairly confident that most North East company owner/managers won’t know all that much about the office of The Pensions Regulator, and equally confident that they won’t be too bothered about that gap in their knowledge either.

However, an issue that has been coming increasingly onto the business agenda over the last few months is swiftly increasing regional knowledge of the work of this organisation’s work.

Under rules that have been phased in from October 2012, and which are being introduced under the remit of The Pensions Regulator, all employers are legally obliged to automatically enrol eligible staff in a workplace pension scheme and must make a minimum contribution into it.

This process, known as automatic enrolment, is applicable to all workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension age, earning at least £10,000 a year and working in the UK.

When an individual business must start doing this, known as its ‘staging date,’ depends on how many people are on its payroll, and the larger the business, the earlier in the piece it has had to add auto enrolment into its payroll processes.

However, even though it doesn’t become mandatory for businesses of all sizes until April 2017, we’re already hearing from our clients that more and more of them are beginning to be contacted about auto enrolment for workplace pensions, with a view to getting them signed up to the new regime sooner rather than later.

Any companies that don’t fulfil their obligations in this respect, or miss the deadline for doing so, could be heavily fined by The Pension Regulator, and in this age of joined-up regulation, any such financial issues arising could be the catalyst for HMRC to take a closer look at a business’s wider financial affairs, which potentially has significant implications in terms of time and expense.

Our advice to any North East businesses that are contacted about auto enrolment is to make the necessary arrangements as soon as possible, regardless of any long-term deadline they’re given for doing so.

There are several basic auto enrolment schemes already in place, but there are also many other options available which might better suit individual businesses’ needs, and it’s likely that the quicker you move, the more options you’ll have available to choose from.

There are also a great deal of rules and obligations for businesses to address regarding auto enrolment, and with the focus moving inexorably towards them, it makes sense for regional SMEs to get moving on this front as soon as they’re contacted about it.


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