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2016: workplace pensions duties start for up to half a million employers

Ref: PN16-01
Wednesday 6 January 2016

Up to half a million small and micro employers must act this year to meet their new workplace pensions duties or risk a fine, The Pensions Regulator has warned.

All of these employers have received letters from the regulator alerting them to when their automatic enrolment duties start, and reminding them to act.

So far the roll out of automatic enrolment has been a success, with millions of workers now saving for their retirement who were not saving before.

Research shows that most employers want to do the right thing by their staff but that smaller employers are more likely to leave things to the last minute. As the regulator deals with smaller employers, it is expected there will be more who, despite the message to prepare early, leave it too late or do not take action at all. Failing to prepare on time risks avoidable compliance action.

Executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said: “We are concerned that a minority of smaller employers are leaving things too late and struggling to comply on time. We are helping employers avoid this by alerting them in good time to their duties and giving them the tools they need to meet them. Employers should start planning 12 months before their duties start and make our website their first port of call.”

Today’s call to action comes as the furry character Workie returns to TV screens with his 'don’t ignore the workplace pension' message.

“Workie is back again this year on TV, radio and across social media to remind employers they cannot ignore the workplace pension”, said Mr Counsell. “Our message to employers is to look out for letters from us and act on them. Those whose duties start in the first three months of the year should now be well underway with their plans.”

Employers should start planning by using the regulator’s online duties checker which is part of a new online step-by-step guide. The checker tells employers specifically what duties apply to them and this means the regulator can send them information suitable for their circumstances.

Not all employers will have staff who need to be put into a pension scheme but they will still have duties to tell staff about automatic enrolment and complete a declaration of compliance. Anyone who receives a letter from the regulator but who does not employ any staff should still act by telling The Pensions Regulator. Failing to do this could trigger unnecessary compliance action.

With hundreds of thousands of employers needing to meet their workplace pension duties, it makes sense to approach pension and software providers and business advisers in good time.

Editor's notes

  1. The regulator publishes quarterly information on our use of powers relating to automatic enrolment.
  2. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. We have objectives to: protect members’ benefits; reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

Press contacts

Rebecca Sandles 01273 811870

Ciara Bridge-Butler 01273 648018