On this page
- Key points
- What is a 'staging date'?
- How do I find out my staging date?
- Can I change my staging date?
- Detailed guidance
- Your staging date is when your automatic enrolment duties first come into force.
- Your staging date is based on the total number of people on your PAYE scheme.
- You can find out your staging date using your PAYE reference.
- You can bring your staging date forward but you can’t make it later (unless you are a particular type of small employer - see exceptions).
What is a 'staging date'?
Every employer will have a date from when the automatic enrolment duties come into force for their business. This is called an employer’s ‘staging date’. Automatic enrolment is being staged in over a period of six years, which started with the largest employers in 2012.
Staging dates are based on the size of an employer’s PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012 – the more people in the PAYE scheme at that time, the earlier the staging date. If you use more than one PAYE scheme, your staging date is based on the total number of people in the largest one that you use.
Staging dates were determined based on the latest PAYE scheme information from HMRC held by us at 1 April 2012.
If you made any changes to your PAYE scheme before this date, they may not be reflected in the data from HMRC.
How do I find out my staging date?
You can find out your staging date by entering your PAYE reference into our staging date tool. If you use more than one PAYE scheme, you’ll need to enter the reference for each one you use. Your staging date will be the one that’s earliest.
It’s important that you have the right PAYE reference and enter it correctly so you get the right staging date.
You can find your PAYE reference on your P35 (employer annual return) or P30BC payslip booklet.
If you’ve had any letters from us about your automatic enrolment duties, your staging date is also printed on these letters.
There are some circumstances where the tool won’t be able to give you the right staging date, for example if you set up in business after 1 April 2012. Read more about the exceptions to using the tool.
Can I change my staging date?
Yes – you can bring forward your staging date, but you must notify us. For more information go to bringing your staging date forward.
Certain, small employers can choose to move their staging date back to a later date than the one determined at 1 April 2012 if, on that date, they:
- employed fewer than 50 staff, and
- had, or were part of, a PAYE scheme that has more than 50 people in it.
If this applies to you go to modified staging dates for some small employers.
If this doesn’t apply to you, you cannot make your staging date later.
Our detailed guidance is aimed at professional advisers and employers with in-house pension professionals.
Guidance 2. Getting ready (PDF, 144kb, 39 pages)
Section 2 contains more information about staging dates. Employers who have complex PAYE structures, or who are part of a corporate group may find this helpful.