The Pensions Regulator has urged hundreds of thousands of small businesses to check their auto enrolment staging dates after research revealed that almost two thirds of businesses still have no idea when their new workplace pension obligations begin.
Research published twice a year by the regulator tracks employer and intermediary awareness of the forthcoming pension regulation changes. While awareness amongst those due to stage between August and November 2015 is high, with 90 percent starting to make their preparations, only 29 percent of those due to stage in 2016 know when their obligations begin.
Employers need to do more to prepare
The official advice from the Pensions Regulator is that employers should start preparing for auto enrolment 12 months ahead of their staging date. However, the statistics clearly show many businesses are failing to do so.
If an employer fails to meet their auto enrolment obligations they could be subject to a fixed penalty notice. Further escalatory penalties can also be applied for every day they fail to comply with the statutory notice.
You can find out more about the penalties for failing to comply with your auto enrolment duties here.
When is your staging date?
Your staging date is effectively when the law comes into effect for your business. This should appear on letters you have received from The Pensions Regulator, but if you’re still unsure when your auto enrolment duties are set to start, you can find your staging date here. If you don’t pay your staff through a PAYE scheme, your staging date will be 1 April 2017.
Ideally, you should find out your staging date 12 months before your duties come into effect. There are a number of tasks you’ll need to complete to comply with your duties, such as planning your finances and finding a suitable pension scheme for your employees, and this will give you the time you need.
Employers are still not doing enough
Commenting on the research’s findings, Charles Counsell, the executive director of automatic enrolment at The Pensions Regulator, said: “The challenge of ensuring 1.8million employers meet their duties by April 2018 is significant, and the research shows many employers are still not preparing early enough.
“We continue to develop new tools on our website to simplify the process and are using a diverse range of communications to reach out to employers; however, my message remains clear: start getting your plans in place or you risk a financial penalty.”