Now that we are into October 2016, Auto Enrolment is fully up and running for the vast majority of large companies (over 212,000 companies have already staged according to The Pensions Regulator website). For those still yet to stage, it is probably the most daunting time of all as we have now reached the smallest companies or the brand new ones who have only set up their PAYE schemes in the past 12 months. If you have yet to stage for Auto Enrolment the best piece of advice we can give right you now is to speak to an IFA as soon as you possibly can as there are still around 580,000 companies still to stage between Q3 this tax year and the end of the 2017/18 tax year.
The biggest issue with my advice is that a lot of companies yet to stage cannot actually afford to get professional advice, or they only have 1-5 employees of which maybe 1 or 2 will qualify for Auto Enrolment. In which case, what then is the best course of action for companies who fall into this bracket? Your initial reaction would be to speak to your accountant or payroll provider; however, they unfortunately cannot, and should not, give guidance as in most cases those of us in this industry are not qualified to provide pensions advice, and we are thus not able to help select which pension scheme to go for.
So where does this leave you? The best piece of advice we can give would be to go online and shop around. It might be that some of the larger pension companies may not be too interested in your business as they will have taken on the pensions from all the larger companies who have already staged. There will, however, be a pension scheme out there for everyone and the sooner you start to look around for one, the easier it will be to find.
The Pensions Regulator
If you are a very small company or a brand new entity, you should hopefully know when your staging date for Auto Enrolment is. If not, this would be the first thing you will need to do. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will send you your staging date by post in due course (or send it to your Payroll Bureau/Accountant if you have set them up as your Registered Office address) however you can check before then on TPR’s website as long as you have your PAYE reference number to hand. If you have a Payroll Bureau who looks after your payroll for you then I am sure they will also do this automatically – if not, find one that does.
Once you have your staging date it’s time to shop around for your pension scheme. Depending upon your size and eligible employees, this may be easy or it may not be. This is why it is best to try and get this finalised as early as possible. Once everything is in motion, even 3 months prior to staging, the process should run smoothly. It is also advisable to keep your Payroll Bureau/Accountant in the loop as much as possible whilst doing this. Once you have decided upon your pension scheme, they can help you ensure a seamless transition into becoming a fully compliant Auto Enrolment company.
You can check for your staging date on the TPR website here: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/staging-date.aspx.
For more information on this or help with any aspect of your payroll, please contact us to speak with one of our dedicated payroll professionals.