If you are an employer, the emphasis is firmly on you to set up a qualifying pension scheme and encourage staff to join it. Failure to introduce a compliant scheme by the staging date – the date allocated to each firm by which auto-enrolment has to be implemented – will be a criminal offence attracting a fixed penalty of up to £50,000, or fines of up to £500 a day!
The majority of employers, including those with fewer than 500 staff, should now have been given their staging date. For many firms that will have been a massive reality check, especially if they have as yet made no preparations. It doesn’t matter if you have just a few employees or hundreds. The preparation needed is the same.
To avoid penalties, as an employer you’ll need to set aside time to prepare a plan and put it into motion to identify which staff – by law – must be enrolled into a scheme. Even this is not straightforward. Well, you didn’t really think it would be, did you? For example, are Partners of the firm employees or are they self-employed? How about independent contractors? And what about British people working abroad, or support staff?
Other considerations to be taken into account include making sure the right communications are sent to relevant employees on time, understanding which employees have opted out of the scheme (because they can if they wish), and how to make contribution payments. Businesses will need to make sure systems are in place for efficient record maintenance and data exchange. It’s essential to get it right, because the Government will check and there will be sanctions for non-compliance.
Make no mistake, for most firms this will not be a walk in the park. Even legal firms are struggling to get to grips with auto-enrolment. According to www.lawgazette.co.uk (3 June 2013), one third of law firms are unsure how to handle the tricky issues of auto-enrolment compliance and administration.
All companies will have to prepare by budgeting for the additional costs of making employer contributions, dealing with staff queries, upgrading payroll systems, collecting and paying over contributions and keeping the required records. Needless to say, these costs will be on-going. So at a time when firms are being asked to do more for less, and when they are already facing rising costs and increased administration and legislation, the hassle surrounding auto-enrolment and constantly having to provide real-time information could be just too much to handle – without help!
The perfect answer could be to outsource the administration. At Brunsdon, we fully understand the issues and are geared up to step in and ease the auto-enrolment administrative burden for employers. And of course, if no qualifying pension scheme is in place, we can advise on that also. Very, very few financial advisers will be in a position to offer this service, so as more and smaller businesses approach their staging dates and seek advice in a panic, be prepared for a log jam. There may not be enough qualified advice to go around!If as an employer you are unsure of your legal duties under the auto-enrolment legislation, or are worried that you will be unable to meet your staging date deadline, contact us straight away. At Brunsdon, our experts are here to help you with all the support you need and provide the peace of mind that your firm will be fully compliant by your staging date.