The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued a stark warning to hundreds of thousands of small employers, after new research has shown that almost two thirds of SMEs do not know the exact date they need to comply with new workplace pension duties.
Research is published twice a year by the Regulator and tracks awareness of automatic enrolment among employers and intermediaries. Encouragingly, results of the survey show that the majority of employers due to stage between now and November 2015 have started preparing and are aware of their staging date, however awareness amongst those due to stage in 2016 and beyond drops significantly.
Speaking on the subject, Charles Counsell, executive director of automatic enrolment at TPR has said, ‘The challenge of ensuring 1.8 million 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 for employers and we are using a diverse range of communications to reach out to employers, but my message to employers remains clear: start getting your plans in place or you risk a financial penalty.’
The Pensions Regulator advises that employers should start preparing for automatic enrolment 12 months ahead of their staging date - the date set in law for when their duties will start. Failure to meet auto-enrolment duties could ultimately lead to employers receiving a fixed penalty notice, and the possibility of escalating penalties applied per day for failing to comply with a statutory notice.