The countdown to automatic enrolment has begun – affecting around 90,000 Scottish SME employers
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is calling on 90,000 Scottish employers to act now to meet their new pensions duties.
It says that, with just four months to go, thousands of small and micro businesses should already have plans under way.
Up to 1.8 million employers in the UK will have new automatic enrolment duties over the next three years – many of which will see their legal duties start from January 2016.
And, according to TPR, all employers should check exactly when the law applies to them – even if they employ just one person.
It says business advisers in Scotland should also be prepared to help their employer clients and that The Pensions Regulator website should be the first port of call for support.
Executive director of automatic enrolment at TPR Charles Counsell said: “Employers across Scotland whose duties will come into effect in the coming months should by now be gearing up to meet their duties. If they are not, then they should act now.
“We know that the majority of employers want to do the right thing for their staff and we are here to help, but those who leave their plans to the last minute risk financial penalty. Whether you are a florist, a builder or run a pub, automatic enrolment applies to you.
“We are now approaching the three years since the start of the start of automatic enrolment and it has been a success – saving for a pension in the workplace is now the norm. Now employees in small and micro businesses will get the opportunity to save for their retirement.”
TPR has also launched a new Facebook page to make it easier for small and micro employers to find and exchange information, as well as webinars and Q&A sessions on LinkedIn.
Every employer has automatic enrolment duties and employers with eligible staff have a duty to automatically enrolment enrol them into a workplace pension.
Automatic enrolment is being rolled out in stages and each employer has a staging date. This is a date set in law which is specific to them. Employers should check their staging date using the staging date tool on the TPR website.
The regulator writes to small employers 12 months before their staging date to alert them to their duties. So far around 57,000 employers have enrolled around 5.4 million staff. Eventually around 9 million staff will be saving or newly saving for their retirement thanks to automatic enrolment.
The number of small and micro businesses across Scotland is taken from statistics published by The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in November 2014 and are rounded to the nearest five thousand. These are not figures published by The Pensions Regulator.
Small and micro employers have staging dates spread from June 2015 through to early 2018. TPR recently published its annual commentary and analysis report which includes an updated staging profile. This shows approximately how many employers will reach their staging dates each month.
Staging dates are dates set in law and are based on information held by HMRC in April 2012. Automatic enrolment is being rolled out in stages – and employer staging dates are staggered to ensure sufficient capacity across the pensions industry.
Within five months after their staging date, employers must complete a declaration of compliance with The Pensions Regulator. This is a statutory requirement.
Employers should consider whether they need to find an adviser, such as an accountant or bookkeeper to help them. They will also need up to date information about their staff and they should check if any existing payroll arrangements are suitable for implementing automatic enrolment. A pension and payroll system should be in place well in advance of the staging date.
As thousands of employers will be doing the same it makes sense not to leave these tasks to the last minute.