Employers are hearing Workie?s message but what now?

11 May 2016

Have you seen the Workie ads and are wondering what to do now? Charles Counsell, executive director of automatic enrolment at The Pensions Regulator, outlines your next steps.

Many employers will have seen the large character Workie - calling on them not to ignore the workplace pension. They may now be wondering what to do next and what automatic enrolment will cost them.

The good news is that recent research by The Pensions Regulator shows most small and micro employers who have already met their workplace pension duties recognise the importance of workplace pensions and think that it is good for staff.

Our findings show automatic enrolment doesn’t have to be costly and that it pays not to put your head in the sand. Starting plans early leaves employers with time to research and shop around and also helps them avoid the risk of a £400 fine.

Employers should first head to our website and follow the step by step Duties Checker which tells them what to and by when.

The Duties Checker is designed for small employers without pensions experience and makes automatic enrolment as easy as possible. I’d also recommend that employers look at our information detailing the set up costs employers might incur which will help people avoid any unnecessary expense.

Employers who have already reached their staging date – the date the law applied to them – should ensure they complete their declaration of compliance and submit it to us. This must be done within five months of their staging date. Employers are at risk of being fined if despite putting staff into a pension, they fail to submit their Declaration of Compliance.

Already more than 100,000employers have completed their workplace pensions duties and more than 6 million workers have been automatically enrolled since 2012. The Pensions Regulator is ready to help hundreds of thousands more small and micro employers join the pension revolution.

Key considerations to bear in mind

Make sure you know what you need to do and by when – you will have duties even if you only employ one member of staff. TPR has an online duties checker which will help you with this – it takes 5 minutes to complete.

Work out the costs which may be involved in terms of time and money – it may be less than you think. TPR has information to help employers understand the one-off costs to set up automatic enrolment, as well as the ongoing cost of paying money into the scheme and managing the process.

Decide who will complete the tasks you need to undertake. While you can carry out the automatic enrolment tasks yourself, you may choose to ask your business adviser for extra support. Make sure you understand and agree which tasks you and they are doing so that nothing is missed.

Frequently asked questions from small employers

Can I use my existing scheme to automatically enrol my staff?

Maybe – but you first need to find out whether it meets certain conditions that will make it a ‘qualifying scheme for automatic enrolment’. Contact your pension scheme provider to find out.

I need to find a pension scheme, but don’t know where to start

Not all schemes offer the same level of services and some will charge more than others, so you should look at different schemes before you decide which is suitable for you and your staff. TPR has information on its website which can help you to choose a pension scheme, with a list of providers who can offer pensions to small employers.

I only have one staff member and their earnings fall under the threshold – do I still have to do anything?

Yes, you still have legal duties to meet. For example, you will need to tell your staff about automatic enrolment and complete and submit a declaration of compliance to TPR to let them know what you have done to meet your duties. Completing TPR’s online duties checker will confirm what your duties are and when they need to be met.

The business only has directors and doesn’t employ any other staff – do I still have duties?

You may be exempt from the automatic enrolment duties, but it’s important to check. If you are exempt and receiving letters from The Pensions Regulator, then you will need to tell them you are exempt. Take 5 minutes to complete TPRs online duties checker, which will confirm what you need to do.

What will happen if I don’t complete the Declaration of Compliance on time?

Don’t leave your preparations to the last minute – if you don’t submit your Declaration of Compliance on time, then you risk a fine. The date this needs to be submitted will be on all letters and emails sent to you by TPR; you can also find this out by completing TPR’s online duties checker.

What to expect from The Pensions Regulator

TPR will send you letters 12 months, 6 months, and 1 month before your staging date – the date your duties start.

It is important you nominate a contact. This is the person TPR will send communications to about what to do and when.

Using the Duties Checker means employers will be sent specific information tailored for their circumstances.

Information is available on TPRs online step by step guide to help you to complete every task.

TPR produces a free, monthly ‘News by Email’ which will help you to keep up to date with news, information, tools and resources on automatic enrolment.

Useful links