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Workplace pensions – there’s no need to miss your staging date…!
Recent research by Aviva has shown that one in seven companies who set up pensions with Aviva in the last quarter of 2016 actually missed their deadline, or Staging Date, for setting up a workplace pension. By my calculations, that means on average around 15% of businesses aren’t complying with their legal duties on time and are very likely to receive a fine from The Pensions Regulator. This is just money down the drain for a small business, and so easy to avoid if confronted early on.
The Pensions Regulator is sensibly recommending that companies set up their schemes around 6 months in advance of their deadline, which is good advice, because 2017 is by far the busiest year for pension providers, with 750,000 companies being allocated a staging date. Some providers may have a long waiting list this year, and any delays in setting up your scheme may lead to a failure in meeting your deadline and a subsequent fine – no excuses.
I suspect that companies are leaving their workplace pensions on the ‘to-do’ pile until the last minute, and then they find that choosing and setting up their scheme, if done properly with thought and consideration for a good employee outcome, takes a lot longer than they thought.
But this doesn’t surprise me – I’m a small business owner myself – and I can certainly sympathise. Small businesses are often stretched to capacity, and it’s likely that the responsibility for workplace pensions will fall on the director or business owner, who tends to be the busiest of the bunch! This is where professional advisers come into their own, because they’ve done all of the research beforehand, and if they specialise in workplace pensions then their knowledge and experience will be a great timesaver.
So what if you do miss your staging date? Well, it’s a legal deadline, there’s no getting around it, so there are repercussions for your business. If you’re within 6 weeks of your staging date then you should issue statutory postponement letters straight away, set up your scheme and enrol your employees within 3 months of staging.
If your staging date was more than 6 weeks ago then you can’t apply postponement and things get a bit more complicated. You’ll need to set up your scheme straight away and work out the contributions that should have been paid into the scheme since your staging date, and it’s likely that the company will also have to pay the backdated employee contributions too.
Towards the end of last year The Pensions Regulator confirmed that there had been a staggering rise in penalties for small businesses for non compliance, with more that 20 times more businesses getting an escalating penalty notice than in earlier quarters. An escalating penalty notice imposes a daily fine of between £500 and £10,000 a day, so best to be avoided!
If you’re getting close to your staging date and haven’t had time to sort out your workplace pension, we can turn things round quickly and easily, taking the pressure off you. We’re here to make sure that you choose a quality scheme and we’ll help you to design your scheme to keep costs and administration to a minimum.
If you need help, please call Sarah or Adele on 0800 160 1233 or fill in the Get Started page on our website and we’ll get back to you straight away.
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"We wanted to embrace Auto-Enrolment to get good pensions in place for our team early. We interviewed a couple of companies to assist us, and Sarah gave a very good case for her company. We are confident that we made the right decision! From selecting the right provider, through to setting up the systems and even presenting to our staff, Sarah and her team were excellent. I don't hesitate recommending the Auto-Enrolment Bureau to anyone looking to enrol their company. My only words of advice are, do it early!"
Richard Hardstaff, Director, Polydron (UK) Ltd