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Auto enrolment is well underway. Updated guidance outlines when it will impact on businesses of different sizes and what steps they should take.

The Pensions Regulator has detailed guidance on the various steps and processes involved with automatic enrolment. This runs to over 250 pages which gives an indication of the complexity of these new regulations and the work involved for employers to comply. Employers should not underestimate the length of time it will take them to prepare for these new requirements.

The staging dates for employers have been spread over a number of years, starting with larger employers and ending with smaller employers. By the end of November 2013 nearly 3,700 of the larger employers had gone through the process of registering and starting to operate auto enrolment for their workers. Nearly 5,000 employers will be staging in January and February 2014, then in April and May another 18,000 employers will reach their staging dates, with more to follow in the second half of 2014; view further guidance now.

The Pensions Regulator has a table showing staging dates for employers with fewer than 30 workers. For these employers the staging dates run from 1 June 2015 to 1 April 2017.

For employers with 30 or more workers The Pensions Regulator highlights where employers can enter their PAYE reference on its website and find their specific staging date.

A table showing the staging dates from 1 October 2012 to 1 February 2018 for different sized employers is also available.

Pension advisers are predicting a demand/supply imbalance during 2014 as the demand from employers will exceed the time which advisers can provide to those clients. It will therefore be important for employers to plan well in advance and not to wait until the last moment to contact their advisers.

Employers may already have in place defined contribution pension schemes for some of their employees and they may be planning to enrol their entire workforce into this scheme to meet their auto enrolment obligations. Employers should be aware that such schemes may not be suitable for this purpose either because the schemes may not accept the new workers or because the charges may be unusually large or the types of investment being offered may not be suitable for this category of workers.

To summarise, employers staging in 2014 and 2015 should consider the following key points:

  1. Plan ahead to ensure there is plenty of time to meet the new obligations under auto-enrolment.
  2. Book the necessary time with your advisers to ensure they will be available when you require the service.
  3. Plan ahead to ensure there is a pension scheme willing to accept your workforce. Don’t just assume that your existing scheme can be used for this purpose.

Further information is available on ACCA’s Technical Advisory webpages.

Article contributed by ACCA