As of now, all organisations with 60 or more employees have reached their auto-enrolment staging date. Over the next four years, 1.3 million SMEs will be legally obliged to offer their workforce a pension scheme.
Unfortunately for smaller businesses, many are still unaware of the burdens of preparing for auto-enrolment.
The Shocking Truth
Recent research revealed some alarming statistics regarding how unprepared SMEs really are. According to the research:
• Two-thirds of SMEs (67%) have no idea when their auto-enrolment staging date is
• 49% of respondents understand little or nothing about the changes they need to make
• 32% of respondents felt they do not know enough about auto-enrolment to be able to determine its impact on their company.
It is worrying that so many employers are oblivious to the challenges ahead. A later staging date for SMEs is no reason for inertia; the earlier an employer begins to prepare the easier the transition will be. Planning for auto-enrolment can be a time-consuming exercise and does need considerable preparation. Employers need to consider a number of factors, including:
• How to prepare the company financially
• What pension scheme to opt with
• Using payroll to process pension contributions
Late fees may drive up financial burden
Preparing for auto-enrolment from a financial perspective is critical. Employers must pay contributions to their employees’ pension schemes, which will rise to a minimum of 3% of employees’ basic pay by 2018. However, additional charges may also apply, including potential fines if SMEs are late in setting up their auto-enrolment pension scheme.
Standard Life estimates that it could cost SMEs up to £34,000 to backdate contributions for just three months. The Pensions Regulator has the power to fine employers with less than 250 employees a maximum of £2,500 per day if they don't comply with their new duties on time. Late payment may also lead to employers liable to meet their employees' missed contributions if the employee is unwilling to do so.
All can be made easier...
Although these additional fees pose further risk to SMEs, it is not as dreadful as it sounds. By using a payroll provider, auto-enrolment is made easier and more understandable with less risk of making avoidable mistakes. By finding the right software to suit your company, administration charges can be kept to an absolute minimum.
To avoid penalties and costs, SMEs need to prepare themselves today. In a sea of additional charges and red tape, SMEs are advised to shop around to find the best pension scheme and payroll provider that suits their needs.
Many SMEs are unprepared for the financial burdens lying ahead, and to begin, employers are urged to become aware of their staging date as soon as possible. The earlier you begin to plan and seek expert advice, the less of a headache auto-enrolment will be for your business.