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The government introduced Pension Automatic Enrolment (PAE), also known as auto-enrolment, in order to encourage more people to save for their retirement.
In the past, many workers missed out on pension benefits because their employer didn’t offer them a pension, or they didn’t apply to join their company’s pension scheme. Automatic enrolment changes this. It makes it compulsory for employers to automatically enrol their eligible workers into a pension scheme. The employer and the employee must pay money into the scheme.
UK employers must provide access to a pension for their eligible workers. Employees can choose to opt out of auto-enrolment if they wish to.
The rules are complex and are overseen by The Pensions Regulator.
There are exemptions for companies with only one director and those with family members who are a director if:
The Pensions Regulator will write to you setting out the action you must take in relation to Pension auto-enrolment. If the Regulator hasn’t contacted you, and you employ staff, contact the Regulator immediately on 0345 600 1011, to ensure you meet your PAE obligations.
The Pensions Regulator may impose fines if you don’t meet your auto-enrolment responsibilities, ranging from a £400 fixed penalty to a varying daily escalating penalty from £50 to £10,000.
Pension auto-enrolment affects every employer in the UK, regardless of the size of the business. All employers must now provide access to a workplace pension scheme and automatically enrol eligible employees. An employee is eligible for auto-enrolment if all of the following conditions apply to them:
You won’t have any auto-enrolment responsibilities if any of the following conditions apply:
We’ve got a handy article to help you understand what your legal employment status is.
Many businesses consisting only of directors already make contributions to a pension scheme on behalf of their directors as an allowable business expense. However, you should still notify The Pensions Regulator your business is exempt from auto-enrolment and that the rules do not apply to your business.
If you’re a Crunch client, but have no employees, and you operate as a single director company, we’ll automatically inform The Pensions Regulator that you are exempt.
You can let The Pension Regulator know if you believe you’re exempt from auto-enrolment and understand more about the possible reasons for exemption online at the TPR website.
When the government introduced auto-enrolment they did so in a staggered process, with the largest employers starting first and then eventually smaller employers. These staging dates are all now past. So all employers should already have an auto-enrolment scheme in place if required. If you were already running a pension scheme before the new rules came into place, you should check with your provider to see whether it’s eligible for auto-enrolment.
You must nominate a contact for your company who will be responsible for your company’s auto-enrolment and will receive all communications from The Pensions Regulator.
If you become an employer for the first time, your legal duties will commence as soon as your employee(s)start working. You’ll need to ensure you have a compliant scheme set up within six weeks of your taking on your first employee.
The main tasks to remain compliant once your pension scheme is set up is the administration of the scheme, managing leavers, joiners and payments – for this you’ll need some information from each of your employees.
You will also need to include the following types of staff pay in your calculation:
You’ll have to pay a minimum contribution set by the government for every eligible member of staff (see table 2 below). There may also be other costs to consider, such as getting the right software and seeking professional advice on how to implement the scheme.
The Pensions Regulator has information on their website that can give you a rough calculation of how much you’ll have to contribute towards pensions as a monetary amount.
You must assess all of your employees to see whether they must be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme. However, certain staff, depending on age and earnings, may not need to be enrolled automatically but do have the right to join or opt-in to a pension scheme. This can be a complex area to navigate and the following table provides a helpful guide to assist you in assessing your employees and deciding whether they need to be enrolled in a pension scheme automatically.
Table 1 – How to see if your employees need to be auto-enrolled
|Monthly gross earnings||Age||Weekly gross earnings|
|From age 16 to 21||From age 22 to SPA*||From SPA* to age 74|
|£520 and below||Has right to join a pension scheme but does not need to be automatically enrolled||£120 and below|
|Over £520 up to £833||Has a right to opt-in to a pension scheme but does not need to be automatically enrolled||Over £120 up to £192|
|Over £833||Has a right to opt-in to a pension scheme but does not need to be automatically enrolled.||Must be automatically enrolled in to a pension scheme||Has a right to opt-in to a pension scheme but does not need to be automatically enrolled.||Over £192|
As the above table indicates, assessing the status of your employees for auto-enrolment can be complex. The final decision is important because your chosen pension scheme may need to meet certain minimum standards and you may need to make contributions to the scheme as an employer.
If a member of staff decides to opt-in, the pension scheme must meet the government’s standards for auto-enrolment and the employer must make the minimum (employer) contribution set by the government.
However, if someone asks to join a pension scheme, the pension scheme doesn’t have to meet the government’s standards for auto-enrolment and the employer does not have to make any (employer) contributions.
It’s against the law to try and affect your employee’s decision to opt-in or out. Examples of this would include offering cash bonuses or withholding pay for opting out.
‘Opting out’ is when an employee decides to leave a pension scheme within a month of being enrolled. Staff that have been enrolled and those who have opted in can choose to opt out. The key points you need to know about opting out are:
An employer must not actively encourage an employee to opt-out of their pension scheme (which could be considered an ‘inducement’). Any decision to opt-out must be taken freely by the employee without influence from the employer.
The government reviews the earnings thresholds and miniumum contributions employers and employees must make to their pension scheme each year. Any changes will take place at the start of a tax year, tax years run from 6th April to 5th April.
The table below shows the minimum contributions employers and employees must make for the tax years 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Table 2 – What are the minimum employee and employer contributions to an auto-enrolment pension scheme?
|Tax Year*||Employer minimum contribution||Employee minimum contribution||Total minimum contribution|
* Tax year runs from 6th April to 5th April
We offer our clients a full service to help you with pension auto-enrolment if you need to enrol your employees. We can set up your auto-enrolment pension scheme and administer this monthly including running your payroll.
We can set up an auto-enrolment pension scheme for our Crunch Payroll clients for £300 +VAT. We’ll set up your company scheme with NEST, the government’s workplace pension scheme, assess your employees, and enrol any who qualify.
We administer deductions from employees’ payslips each month and deal with the pension provider on your behalf. We’ll also manage new starters, opt-ins and opt-outs, and all for £37.50 +VAT a month.
If your business needs to inform HMRC an auto-enrolment pension scheme has been offered to employees, where the employees have decided to opt-out, we can handle the process for just £100 +VAT.
If you’re already a Crunch client then speak to your client manager about adding our auto-enrolment service. If you’re not yet a Crunch client then you can speak to one of our friendly advisors on 0333 311 8000 for a free consultation about how our range of accounting services could help you and your business.