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What do I need to do at my duties start date?

At your duties start date, you’ll need to have a qualifying scheme in place if there’s someone to auto-enrol on this date. Your duties start date is when the legal duties obliging you to enrol some or all of your workers into a qualifying pension scheme begin.

At your duties start date you’ll need to contact all of your employees and tell them what’s happening. It’s a legal requirement to tell them within 6 weeks from your duties start date:

– how auto-enrolment affects them;
– their rights; and
– whether you’re delaying working out who to put into a pension scheme.

This communication from the employer to employees is called the ‘notice’.

You only need an auto-enrolment pension scheme in place by your duties start date if there’s someone to auto-enrol on this date. If there’s no one who needs to be auto-enrolled, then there’s no need to have a pension scheme in place. However, it may be useful to decide which pension scheme would be used if the person or people you employ actually need to be enrolled (or ask to join).

Even if there are no employees to be auto-enrolled, you’ll still have a duty to write to your employees and complete your declaration of compliance.

Can an employee reduce their pension contributions?

Pension savings can be a very effective way to save for the future. Your employee may not be aware of how much money they’re missing out on if they stop paying into their pension pot. They should visit our website before they make a decision, to understand what they risk losing by stopping or reducing their contributions.

What if your employee wants to stay in the pension scheme, but doesn’t want to pay the balance to meet the legal minimum contribution?

An employee can decide that they’d like to reduce their pension contributions so as they’re not meeting the legal minimum contributions. This means the employee will no longer be classed as ‘eligible’ for auto-enrolment’.

It should be their choice to pay below the minimum levels, and their employer is legally not allowed to suggest, encourage or induce them to do so.

Employers can choose to support the employee’s decision to reduce their pension contributions by following our guide,’Paying below the minimum contribution levels’.

Reducing their pension contributions means:

  • the employee should remain in the pension scheme as an active member.
  • you don’t have to continue paying pension contributions for them – but you can if you want to and can choose how much you’ll pay.
  •  you may need to re-enrol your employee into the pension scheme every 3 years (sometimes sooner). They’ll then have the opportunity again to see if they’d like to contribute to meet the total legal minimum contributions.
  •  the employee can decide to join the pension scheme and pay towards the total minimum contributions at any point in the future. They’ll just need to let their employer know in writing. This can be a signed letter or email, if it includes a statement to say it has come from them.

If you choose not to enable your employees to pay below the legal minimum contributions, they can opt out and pay pension contributions directly into their pension pot by Direct Debit. They’ll still benefit from the tax relief on their payments, and you won’t need to contribute. Your employee should be directed to our website if they’d like to set this up.

I can’t pay for contributions, what happens now?

By law, when you take contributions from your employees’ wages, you must pay these to your pension provider by the 22nd of the following month.

What should I do if I’m unable to pay for contributions?

Things are very difficult for many businesses right now, and we understand that you may be experiencing problems paying for your employees’ pension contributions.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has said that auto-enrolment duties continue to apply as normal, including your re-enrolment and re-declaration duties. However, they’re taking a measured approach to this.

Even if you’re unable to pay for contributions, you should continue to send us your employee data every pay period. This means that we’ll be able to allocate contributions to your employees quicker once you are able to make payment.

We’ll still send automatic reminders to you when your contributions are late. We’re on hand to support you with any difficulties you may be facing, so please get in touch as soon as you can if this applies to you.

What could happen if I don’t pay?

When contributions are 90 days late, we’re obliged to report the case to TPR, and write to all affected members. You may be fined by TPR if you don’t pay outstanding contributions by this date.

When you’re able to pay

Simply log into your Online Services account and select ‘Make a payment’ from your account home page.

We’ll apply your payment first to the amount that has been outstanding the longest. This is to help you avoid falling into further arrears.

If you pay by automated collection

Please note, if you send us contributions data or ask us to take payment within 6 working days of your collection date, we won’t be able to request this from your bank in time. We’ll collect this payment on the next collection date. Our system sends automated emails, so you may receive reminders while we’re processing your contributions.

What support is available?

If you’re in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government has made support available to employers.

Visit the government website for information on coronavirus support available.

The Pensions Regulator is also frequently updating their guidance to employers – check their website for the latest information and guidance.

What’s re-assessment and how often do I have to do it?

After you’ve assessed your employees for their auto-enrolment status at your staging or duties start date, you then must monitor their age and earnings for each subsequent Pay Reference Period. They may trigger the requirements to become assessed as eligible and will therefore need to be auto-enrolled. You don’t need to re-assess any eligible employees who’ve opted out, apart from when you re-enrol.

How and where do I send details of my employees’ contributions?

You’ll need to calculate, deduct and pay employees’ contributions, as well as employer contributions on their behalf into the qualifying pension scheme. Most payroll providers’ software is geared up for auto-enrolment, so all you’d need to do is extract the data file and submit it via a secure portal to the pension provider.

What do I have to do after I’ve enrolled employees?

Once you’ve successfully enrolled your eligible employees and the joiner information has been sent out, there are duties that you’ll be required to fulfil on an ongoing basis such as uploading your payroll files to pay contributions. You’ll also need to manage employees who join and leave, and those that opt in and opt out.

And every 3 years, you’ll need to re-enrol anyone who has opted out, ceased active membership or is paying below the minimum contribution levels and is an eligible employee. You’ll also need to re-declare your compliance every 3 years – even if you have no one to re-enrol.