When becoming an employer for the first time there are lots of things to consider; do you need to register as an employer with HMRC , setting up payroll, getting liability insurance and arranging contracts of employment. The last thing on your mind I expect is complying with Auto Enrolment legal duties. So what is “Auto Enrolment”? Auto Enrolment is pension legislation designed to encourage us to all make private pension provision for our retirement via a company pension scheme referred to as a Qualifying Workplace Pension (QWPS) scheme instead of relying on the state pension.

Automatic enrolment duties begin on the day the first member of staff starts working for you, not when the employee is first paid. This involves assessing staff, to see if they meet the age and earnings criteria to be automatically enrolled. If they do you’ll need to put them into a QWPS, and you and the employee will both need to pay into it. You and the employee don’t get a choice hence the term AUTO Enrolment. Although you can opt out within 30 days of membership and receive a full refund. You will also need to write to every member of staff, whether or not they meet the age and earnings criteria, to tell them how automatic enrolment applies to them.

Take a deep breath, there is some good news, you can use postponement to delay assessing who to put into a scheme and starting contributions. Assessing staff can be postponed for up to three months, which will give extra time to meet your legal duties and postpone the commencement of employer pension contributions. You do need to inform employees this is what you are doing and set up a pension scheme at the time of sending out the communications.

These duties are ongoing, including monitoring the age and earnings of existing and new staff on every payday, to see if they need to be put into a pension scheme. And every three years, you will need to re-enrol any staff who left the pension scheme but you still employ, but if they left it within the last 12 months, you can choose whether or not to re-enrol them.

I am afraid there is still more to do. You need to inform The Pension Regulator (TPR) you have met your duties by completing an online declaration of compliance within five months of the duties start date (employing first member of staff).

I expect your thinking when will I have time to do all this on top of running a business! Well the good news is that you can outsource all elements of the process to a third party such as your payroll provider, accountant or an independent financial adviser (IFA) specialising in employee benefits such as Wingate.

Wingate will be able to provide advice on how to comply with the legislation and complete the TPR online declaration as well as recommending a suitable pension provider and assisting you with the ongoing administration of the scheme. Please contact us for more information on 01883 332260 or at info@wingatebs.com

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