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Our 'Top Ten Tips' for pensions auto-enrolment

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As featured in the Yorkshire Post.

Small and medium sized businesses should familiarise themselves with the new pension automatic enrolment regime and take steps towards compliance as soon as possible. It is likely to take longer than the 12 months warning which business’ will receive from the Pensions Regulator to organise all aspects of compliance.

Our top 10 tips are:

  1. Visit the Pensions Regulator website to get an idea of your staging date and when you are likely to be affected. You will also need to register with the Pensions Regulator, provide them with specific information and keep records.
  2. Consider whether your staging date is convenient for your business. Subject to specific criteria, you may be able to bring your staging date forwards or postpone the implementation of auto-enrolment for up to 3 months for specific workers.
  3. Think about whether contractual auto-enrolment may be suitable for your business. Having a policy of enrolling all workers into a compliant pension scheme as a matter of course instead of working under the statutory regime may avoid administrative burden and suit your business better.
  4. Identify the pension scheme which you would like to use for your business. You will be required to provide your pension provider with specific information relating to your workforce within precise time periods.
  5. Assess your workforce to divide workers into the status categories identified in the new regime as early as possible. This can be difficult to judge where services are not provided pursuant to a traditional employer-employee relationship. However, workers will have different rights depending on the category which they fall into.
  6. Ensure that your payroll system is appropriate to deal with the new pension obligations and input the relevant data from your workforce in preparation for your staging date.
  7. Review your contracts of employment, any casual or temporary workers contracts and any Employee Handbooks or policies. This documentation may need amendment to reflect the changes, but advice should be sought as to what should be included.
  8. Prepare template letters that you can use to provide your workforce with the specific information explaining their rights as required by the legislation. This will vary depending on the category which an individual falls into and should be prepared well in advance.
  9. Put systems in place to monitor your workforce. The obligations of auto-enrolment are continuing. A worker’s rights may change during your employment relationship as a result of their age or a pay increase. Workers may also opt-out of the regime.
  10. Train your senior staff on the potential Employment Tribunal claims arising from the new pension obligations. Workers will have increased whistleblowing rights and protection from suffering a detriment. Employees will also have additional unfair dismissal rights