Employer Responsibilities – Workplace Pensions

example of pension regulator letterThe Chamber’s March event offered the chance to hear and question an authority on a subject which is affecting ALL employers: workplace pensions and auto enrolment.

Graeme Howell, of WK Financial Planning, explained the essential responsibilities of the employer in relation to the legislation:

  1. ASSESS your workforce for eligible jobholders and workers;
  2. COMMUNICATE with your workforce;
  3. ENROL qualifying workers;
  4. CONTRIBUTE to your employees’ pension funds;
  5. DECLARE contributions and compliance to the authorities.

Graeme explained the importance of the staging date; the option to use a 3-month postponement; the fact that assessments MUST be made, even if it seems as though there will be no qualifying or opting-in employees; that an opting-out employee must be enrolled in the first place; that an existing scheme may not necessarily be usable; the phasing of contributions; options available in terms of how to measure qualifying salary; options available in terms of choosing a fund manager – including the public service National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) scheme; the scale of warnings and penalties for non-compliant employers.

graeme howell, wilkins kennedy financial planningBusinesses which have enrolled in 2014 and 2015 are dwarfed by the 1.8 million businesses due to stage over the next 3 years. More compliance notices and fines have been issued in the last 3 months of 2015 (including one of £400,000) than in the whole previous roll-out. The authorities are clearly signalling that they are taking the process seriously.

The presentation also highlighted a number of management issues which need to take the new landscape into consideration. These include budgetting for increased business costs. Graeme also stressed throughout his presentation the benefits of linking management of pensions payments with payroll software, to manage accurate payments, reporting and record keeping.

This was a timely and informative session. If you as a business owner have yet to receive news of your staging date, you will soon! It will be essential to take it seriously and follow it up. You may well have your own advisers, but should you wish to follow up with Graeme Howell and WK Financial Planning, you can e-mail him on graeme.howell@wkpf.co.uk