The Pensions Regulator (TPR) reports that in the first part of 2017 alone, 136,000 small and micro employers began complying with their new responsibilities under the pensions auto-enrolment regime.
That’s an average of one every 57 seconds. But with change ahead, it’s important to keep up to date with developments.
The latest important deadline is 1 October 2017, as the regime enters a new phase, with no lead-in time for new employers to comply. From 1 October, any employer taking on staff for the first time immediately comes within the rules. Those who have employed staff before 30 September 2017 have different deadlines – see the Duties Checker section on The TPP website.
The first step in employer compliance involves assessing staff on the basis of age and earnings. Staff aged between 22 and State Pension age, who earn over £10,000 pa, (£833 per month or £192 weekly), must be put in a pension scheme, to which both employer and employee contribute.
But employer involvement doesn’t stop there. If staff don’t need to be put into a scheme, there’s still a declaration of compliance to be made, and ongoing duties, including keeping track of employees’ age and earnings each time they are paid, managing requests to leave or join a pensions scheme, and a three-year cycle involving re-enrolling employees who have opted out.
The next major change to the regime is the increase in contribution rates from April 2018. From 6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019, employer minimum contribution increases to 2%, and from 6 April 2019 onwards, it rises again, to 3%.
Failure to comply can result in fines and being named and shamed on the TPR website. TPR is particularly vigilant regarding compliance: it has warned that it will prosecute for failure to provide information in the course of its investigations, and has initiated a first prosecution where an employer is held to have deliberately failed to put staff in a workplace pension.