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The Essentials

Nominate your point of contact: Around 18 months before your assigned staging date, TPR will send you a letter with which there is your PIN – do not lose or destroy either the letter or the PIN. Use your PIN to complete this form – congratulations, you’ve now started the AE process!

Confirm your staging date then consider your plan of action: With your PAYE reference number to hand press this link to find out when your company is staging. We now recommend you put together your plan of action, working backwards from your staging date - Press this to get a project planner

Prepare for your staging:
  1. Make an assessment of your entire staff. You need to include everyone who is a ‘job holder’. This assessment of your work force then enables you to categorise your staff into eligible jobholders or entitled workers or non eligible jobholders. This is perhaps the most important part of your planning where accuracy is paramount, but made easier by using this diagram. Once you’ve categorised your work force, this link helps you learn what you have to do for them.

    Now there are several other decisions that you’ll have to take on board as you continue to assess your workforce, so use this guide which explains the detailed information . You will also have to consider and work through whether you want to postpone making contributions.

    *TOPTIP* If you really want to impress your staff and/or your boss, take some time out to go through this –an easy to read booklet that covers all your employer’s duties, provided free from the Pension Regulator (there are actually there to help employers!)

  2. Assess and benchmark your current work place pension scheme/s against the requirements of the regulations. If it falls short of any requirement then it needs to be upgraded or replaced. If your firm does not yet have a pension scheme then it must find one that ticks all the necessary boxes and be effective from your staging date.

    *TOPTIP* A good independent adviser can help you in this area so in the first instance we would recommend you talk to them (please also draw their attention to our website as we would be delighted to work with your adviser or any other professional who is interested in making work place pensions more manageable for their clients). Alternatively, we have existing contacts with a number of financial adviser firms whom we can introduce to you.

  3. Communicate to your staff what you are doing to meet your Auto Enrolment obligations. This can be split into statutory communications (the minimum you have to do by law), and discretionary communications (anything else you feel might be useful or want your staff to understand). A very useful resource, again produced free by the Pension Regulator is their booklet download templates Information to Workers. So, in this you will find all the statutory communications to staff.

    But what of any discretionary communications? That’s entirely up to you and in the first instance we would recommend another visit to the resource section of the Pension Regulator web site. You will also find it useful to discuss this with your directors, partners, boss and managers within your own HR, payroll or pension departments. And don’t forget, Auto Enrolment Solutions have a software system with numerous templates that can be easily emailed to your clients and well as enhanced by a bespoke service that can we can develop with you.

  4. Staging & beyond – this is where things start to get serious and easily muddled as you now have to enrol into your qualifying workplace pension scheme the right staff!!
Again, the Pension Regulator has provided this handy guide. It walks you through the information you need to give your pension provider or trustees, provides the overview you need to apply to make sure they’re doing their job, managing the opt-out process and making sure you carry out your on-going duties (remember, don’t make the mistake that auto enrolment is a single obligation that needs to be done for just one day – it simply ‘goes live’ at staging then needs regular attention on an ongoing basis!!)

The area scaring most employers is the paperwork and in particular the requirement to maintain, keep and have easy/quick access to your records that reflect everything you have done to comply with your Auto Enrolment obligations. Perhaps the most practical method is to have a central data base of all your activities in this area, cross referenced to your work force, their categorisations, pension schemes, advisers, contribution levels etc, etc – imagine the size and complexity of that spreadsheet/s!! Of course, help is at hand with your own bespoke and corporatized Auto Enrolment Solution, just ask us for a demo.

And finally, remember to pay into your staff’s pension scheme/s. Surprisingly, whilst there is strict criteria on contribution levels, the employer has plenty of choices to make around what they want to define as eligible earnings. All this and more can be found in the detailed guide different contribution choices. Also remember that you and your staff can phase into paying into pensions as the full contribution rate doesn’t have to start immediately – in fact these can start from as low as 1% of eligible earnings, building up to the full amounts over a few years as detailed via this link, read about phasing.

DO NOT try to avoid your AE obligations in particular ignore the Rules, avoid paying into Workplace Pensions, induce workers to Opt-out etc. The Pensions Regulator will get tough and has very sharp teeth!!
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