New legislation on workplace pension will affect every employer with staff working for them in the UK. This brief guide is designed to give an overview of the new duties and spells out how we can help with the process.
What to do first
Find out your ‘Staging Date’
– Each employer has a ‘Staging Date’, which is the date that the new duties come into force for that business.
– You can find out your staging date by entering your PAYE reference on the ‘What is my staging date?’ page of The Pensions Regulator website or by contacting us.
– By now most employers should have received a letter from The Pension Regulator notifying them of their staging date and for each employer to provide a contact person
– You will also begin receiving correspondence from The Pensions Regulator as your staging date approaches.
Assess workers and enrol them into the pension scheme
Some employees must be ‘automatically enrolled’ into your chosen pension scheme at the staging date, whilst others may have the right to ‘opt-in’ or ‘join’ the scheme. Your duty with regard to each employee is determined by their age and level of earnings, and you will need to perform an ‘assessment’ in order to place each employee into a particular category.
A worker is defined as any individual who:
- works under a contract of employment (an employee), or
- has a contract to perform work or services personally and is not undertaking the work as part of their own business.
* This definition is for Workplace Pension
* Earnings levels are for the 2015-16 tax year
Employees under 16 or over 75 are excluded from the auto enrolment process.
‘Eligible Jobholders’ are those employees between 22 and State Pension Age earning the equivalent of £10,000 or more per annum. Employees in this category must be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme. The employer must pay contributions into the scheme of these employees.
‘Non-eligible Jobholders’ comprise of 2 groups of employee:
- Employees aged between 22 and State Pension Age earning between £5,824 and £10,000 per annum (i.e. their earnings are below the £10,000 ‘trigger’ for auto enrolment)
- Employees earning above £5,824 that are either below or above the age bracket to be automatically enrolled (i.e. they are aged 16-21 or above state pension age).
Employees in the above category are not automatically enrolled but have the right to ‘opt-in’ to the pension scheme if they choose. If they do choose to ‘opt-in’ then the employer must pay contributions into the scheme.
‘Entitled Workers’ are those employees aged between 16 and 75 earning below £5,824 per annum. Employees in this category must be offered the opportunity to join a workplace pension scheme, but the employer is not obliged to make contributions to it.
Choose a Pension Provider
When choosing a pension scheme for automatic enrolment you must make sure it meets certain criteria. There are many providers offering pension schemes suitable for auto enrolment. We would recommend that you begin the process of selecting a pension provider well in advance of your staging date.
The Pensions Regulator guide is a good starting point. Alternately you can employ the services of a Financial Advisor.
Calculate and deduct the pension contributions
The amount you must contribute to the pension scheme is determined by your particular scheme’s rules. However, if you’re using the scheme for automatic enrolment there are minimum contributions you must pay. Minimum contributions are shown in the table below – they’re currently a total contribution of 2% with at least 1% employer contribution (some pension schemes refer to ‘ 1 and 1 ‘ levels of contribution, which means that the employee and employer are each contributing 1%).
Minimum contributions are being increased gradually over time.
|Employer minimum contribution
|Total minimum contribution
|2% (including 1% staff contribution)
|*06/04/18 – *05/04/19
|5% (including 3% staff contribution)
|8% (including 5% staff contribution)
*The proposed dates are subject to Parliament approval
The employer can pay more than their minimum contribution (if they want to) and the staff member must pay the difference, to reach the total minimum contribution.
Communicate with each employee
You must write to each member of staff to tell them how automatic enrolment affects them and to inform them of their rights. This is a legal requirement. Following your staging date, employees that are automatically enrolled into your pension scheme (the ‘Eligible Jobholders’) need to be given information about their contributions and their right to ‘opt-out’ of the scheme. ‘Non-Eligible Jobholders’ must be informed of their right to ‘Opt-in’ to the scheme, and so on.
The Pensions Regulator has a useful guide on employee communications, including an interactive tool for selecting the correct letter template to use in various situations.
Complete the automatic enrolment Declaration Of Compliance (‘Registration’) with The Pensions Regulator.
You must provide certain information to The Pensions Regulator about how you’ve complied with the automatic enrolment duties, such as how many people you’ve automatically enrolled and into which pension scheme(s). You must complete your declaration of compliance even if you don’t have anyone to automatically enrol. Declaration is mandatory and you could get fined if you don’t do it in time. Your declaration deadline is five calendar months after your staging date. Declaration provides a snapshot of your workforce on your staging date and you’ll need to account for each person. Automatic enrolment declaration of compliance (registration) is a secure, online service accessed through the Government Gateway.
You must manually log on to the Government Gateway website and enter the relevant details there.
Continually assess your workforce before each pay date
You must continue to assess your workforce before each pay day following your staging date. You’ll need to monitor any changes in the age and earnings of your staff. You may have taken on a new employee who needs to be automatically enrolled, or perhaps one of your existing employees has reached their 22nd birthday or has received a pay rise and so becomes an ‘Eligible Jobholder’. The auto enrolment ‘assessment’ process should therefore become part of your regular payroll routine.
I’m the only director of my own company – does workplace pension apply to me?
If you are the sole director and you have no other staff working for you, the company does not have automatic enrolment duties but can opt in.
If you believe you don’t have any automatic enrolment duties you will need to tell us that you’re not an employer.
Does Workplace Pension apply if I employ a carer?
If you directly employ one or more people to provide you with care or personal assistance, you’re an employer and Workplace Pension duties will apply to you.
This will be the case whether you use the money provided by your local council in the form of direct payments or a personal budget to pay the carer, or you use your own money.
If the person who provides you with care or personal assistance is provided by an agency or the council, you’re not an employer and Workplace Pension duties will not apply to you.
Workplace Pension is similar to your employer responsibility to deal with National Insurance and tax.
So, in the same way that you have to pay employer National Insurance in respect of your carer’s earnings and deduct PAYE tax from their pay, depending on the circumstances, you must also put your carer into a pension scheme and pay money into it on their behalf.