Advice: What you need to know about pensions law changes

Advice from Charles Counsell, The Pensions Regulator’s executive director of automatic enrolment

Changes to pension laws mean all businesses, including those in the travel industry, have a statutory duty to automatically enrol certain staff into a workplace pension scheme and make contributions to it.

About 43,000 employers in the UK have already automatically enrolled more than five million staff into a scheme. These totals are expected to reach 
1.3 million employers and 10 million workers.

Automatic enrolment is being introduced in stages, starting with large and then medium-sized businesses. In June, thousands of small and micro businesses, including travel agencies with fewer than 50 employees, will be required to comply with the new requirements. The law applies to all employers, including those with only one member of staff, such as a personal assistant.

Here are some tips for agencies with up to 50 staff.

1. Look out for a letter from the Pensions Regulator

Over the coming months, all employers will receive a letter from the Pensions Regulator alerting them to their staging date – when your new duties come into effect.

Each employer will have a staging date that is specific to their business, and we recommend that you start preparing 12 months ahead of that date.

The nationwide letter campaign is to ensure all employers know that the law applies to them and asks them to nominate a contact, who will be responsible for managing or implementing automatic enrolment within the organisation.

2. Visit the regulator’s website

The first port of call for any employer should be the Pension Regulator’s website, which has all the information you will need to implement automatic enrolment.

If you don’t know your staging date, use the staging date tool – thepensions – it takes just a few minutes but you will need your PAYE details to hand.

You can then use the timeline planner, which shows you what you will need to do and when.

3. Assess your staff

Broadly speaking, employees eligible for automatic enrolment are those over 22, who earn more than £10,000 a year and who ordinarily work in the UK.

Depending on the size and type of workforce, this assessment will take some employers longer than others.

You should carry out an initial check to work out how long an assessment will take you, and ensure you leave enough time. Staff will need to be alerted to the changes and informed as to how automatic enrolment affects them as individuals.

You should consider whether you will need outside help from an accountant or bookkeeper.

4. Find a pension scheme

You will need to identify a suitable pension scheme and software provider. With thousands of other employers all seeking to do this at the same time, it is sensible to make approaches early.

Five months after your staging date, you must show you have complied with your automatic enrolment duties by completing a declaration of compliance with The Pensions Regulator. This is a statutory duty and each employer has a specific 
day by which to do this. If you fail to meet this deadline, you could face enforcement action.

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