Prepare for pensions, companies warned

SMEs are being warned to be aware of their auto enrolment staging dates and to start preparing now to sign up their employees for workplace pensions.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) says around 20 per cent of small employers and almost half of all micro employers (companies with between one and four members of staff) do not know the exact date by which they need to comply with auto enrolment laws, and has advised SMEs to take steps to prepare for the changes twelve months in advance of their staging date.

John Davenport, director for financial planning at Cassons says: “The introduction of auto enrolment can be a headache for the small business owner, but it’s vital to prepare the information required well ahead of your staging date as failure to do so could lead to hefty daily fines”.

A company’s staging date is the date from which its automatic enrolment duties come into force, and is decided by the size of an employer’s PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012. This applies to Companies with 30 or more staff. For Firms with less than 30 staff their staging dates could be anytime between 01 June 2015 and 01 April 2017.

Whilst research by the TPR has shown that ninety per cent of business owners with a staging date between October 2014 and April 2015 have begun preparing for auto enrolment and 80 per cent of those with a date in this period have sought the guidance of an adviser, the organisation is keen to reinforce the need to act sooner rather than later.

John says: “The TPR will contact an employer a year in advance of their staging date, but the business of running a business can mean it’s another piece of admin to add to the list.

“We’d urge any small business to get ready for auto enrolment as soon as possible. As pension and business advisers, we’re here to help SMEs handle these sorts of changes smoothly.

“Our knowledge of the new legislation means we can help business owners to cut through the red tape and understand in clear terms any issues they may face. “The most important thing to remember is this is not an issue you can just put to one side until later. The possibility of a fine for failing to have all the correct paperwork in place means doing nothing is not an option”.