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How to Plan for your Auto Enrolment Staging Date

Posted: 22nd May 2015 09:09
The law regarding workplace pensions has recently changed. If you are an employer with one or more people working for you, you must now enrol eligible staff into a workplace pension scheme. It is known as automatic enrolment because your staff will be automatically enrolled by you. The following are key points and milestones in planning for the process.

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 1. Know your staging date.

Your staging date is the date by which your staff must be enrolled in the workplace pension scheme you have chosen. Your staging date can be found on all the letters you receive from the Pensions regulator. If your staff are not paid through a PAYE scheme then the staging date will be April 1, 2017. 

2. Provide a point of contact, approximately 12 months before staging date

You, as the employer or owner of the business, will be the primary contact, responsible for ensuring your company complies with the new workplace pensions law. You can select a secondary contact to deal with the day to day tasks.

 3. Check who must be enrolled, nine months before staging date

Work out who must be enrolled into a workplace pension scheme and who may opt in. There are three categories of staff to consider, based upon how much they earn and their ages.

 All staff over the age of 22 and up to state pension age who earn more than £833 each month must be automatically enrolled by you and you must pay regular contributions. All others have the right to opt in to the scheme if they wish. If they earn below £486 a month they have the right to join the scheme but you do not have to pay contributions. If they earn in between £486 and £833 they can opt in and you must pay regular contributions.  

4. Create an action plan, nine months before staging date

Use the action planner provided by the Pensions Regulator to create your action plan. You can, if you wish, opt to use an external service provider who can carry out the tasks you need to do on your behalf. Compliance with the law remains your responsibility, however. Consult an independent financial advisor now if you wish.  

5. Work out your costs, 9 months before staging date

How much will you be paying into the scheme? Use the Pensions Regulator’s online tool to calculate your contributions.

 6. Check your payroll processes and records, six months before staging date

Your staff records must be up to date. Payroll software will simplify assessment of your staff and transfer data to the pension company. However, you must check that it complies with the new regulations and will work with the pension scheme you choose.

 7. Choose a workplace pension scheme, six months before staging date

If you already have a workplace pension scheme, check with the provider that it is compatible with automatic enrolment.  

8. Assess and enrol your staff by your staging date

Your staging date is the date by which you must have assessed and enrolled all of your eligible staff on your auto enrolment pension scheme. You can begin to calculate and deduct pension contributions from your employees’ pay and to send all details to the pension provider. You are allowed six weeks from your staging date to do this.  

9. Write to your staff

You must give your staff written details of the pension scheme you are providing and their rights.  
You may postpone enrolment for some or all your staff for three months or less if you choose but must write to your staff informing them.

 10. Your ongoing enrolment duties

When you have enrolled your staff, your responsibilities will continue. You will be paying regular contributions, record keeping and reviewing your staff’s eligibility for the scheme on an on-going basis. Keep your auto enrolment pension guide for reference. 

11. Complete your declaration of compliance within five months of staging date.

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