Auto enrolment for small businesses

Posted on 26 May 2023
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Pensions regulator auto-enrolment warning for small employers

All small and micro businesses will be contacted by The Pensions Regulator in the coming months as part of a new campaign to give them information on automatic enrolment pensions, including when they have to comply with the new rules and details about staging dates

The decision to write to more than 1.5m companies across the UK from the end of January is part of a campaign to ensure that by the summer all employers know their ‘staging date’ – the date when they need to be ready to meet their automatic enrolment duties.

Research from the regulator has shown that significant numbers of small and micro employers do not know their staging dates.

The regulator already writes to employers 12 months ahead of their staging date as part of its ongoing ‘countdown’ of communications to employers approaching automatic enrolment.

The new all-employer mail out is in addition to this regular activity and also asks employers to provide email contact details to the regulator so it can provide them with regular reminders and updates as their individual staging date approaches. 

Executive director of automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said: ‘Automatic enrolment affects every employer in the UK and they need to take timely action to get ready.

‘The roll-out of automatic enrolment has so far been a success and this letter will ensure that by the summer all small and micros are clear about when their duties begin, enabling them to plan ahead.

‘From the end of January, letters will be sent out on a gradual basis over a number of months, so employers should not worry if they don’t receive theirs straight away.’

More than 5m workers have already been automatically enrolled by their employers. Research carried out by The Pensions Regulator indicates that workplace pensions are becoming the norm, with the majority of small and micro employers indicating that they believe it to be a ‘good idea’.

Information about automatic enrolment for employers is available on the regulator’s website - including an action planner, an essential guide and a tool to estimate contributions. The website also offers guidance to advisers.http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/professionals/help-clients-prepare-for-auto-enrolment.aspx

Counsell added: ‘We know from our own research that more than one million employers will be seeking help on automatic enrolment.

‘Our message for advisers is clear: be prepared for clients to approach you about automatic enrolment. Let your clients know to look out for a letter from The Pensions Regulator in the coming months.’

Eventually it is expected that up to 1.3m employers will have automatically enrolled up to 10m eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme.

Employers with 50 to 249 persons in their largest PAYE scheme have to sign up to auto enrolment by 1 April 2015.

Employers with fewer than 50 persons in their largest PAYE scheme will be staged between 1 June 2015 and 1 April 2017.

Note that some employers with fewer than 50 workers may have staging dates earlier than this, perhaps because their PAYE scheme also includes non-workers (eg, pensioners being paid pension benefits). In this case, if they meet certain conditions, they can choose to move their staging date back to a prescribed date between 1 August 2015 and 1 April 2017.

Staging dates

Any employer who first pays PAYE in respect of a worker from 1 April 2012 up to and including 30 September 2017 will have a staging date between 1 May 2017 and 1 February 2018. The staging date is not based on the number of persons in the employer’s largest PAYE scheme but by the date the employer first pays PAYE in respect of any worker.

PAYE income first payable                          Staging date

From 1 Apr 2012-31 Mar 2013                      1 May 2017

From 1 Apr 2013-31 Mar 2014                      1 July 2017

From 1 Apr 2014-31 Mar 2015                      1 August 2017

From 1 Apr 2015-31 Dec 2015                      1 October 2017

From 1 Jan 2016-30 Sep 2016                      1 November 2017

From 1 Oct 2016-30 Jun 2017                      1 January 2018

From 1 Jul 2017-30 Sep 2017                       1 February 2018

Employer staging dates are available on the regulator’s website athttp://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/what-is-my-staging-date.aspx

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