Pensions auto-enrolment – what you should know

Pensions Auto-enrolment – what you should know

For small and micro employers, the time is almost upon you for planning your auto-enrolment, hence a timely reminder from us to start thinking about this.  A few useful points are provided below:

What is it?

ALL employers are legally required to automatically enrol certain staff into a pension scheme and make contributions for them.  You will also have to tell your staff about the scheme you put them in and allow other staff to join if they request to do so.

When will it affect my business?

  •  Every employer has been given a ‘Staging Date’. This is the date by which your pension scheme should be up and running, not when the planning starts!  The Pensions Regulator will write directly to small employers alerting them that they have 12 months to go before staging, however, you can find out your staging date very easily by entering your PAYE reference into the Pensions Regulator tool.
  • As a rule of thumb, small employers (less than 50 employees) will have a staging date between 1st June 2015 and 1st April 2017.  New employers from 1st April 2012 will stage in 2017 or 2018.

Why are we reminding you now?

The Regulator suggests it takes 12 months planning and preparation.  Lessons learned from companies who have done this confirm this is the case.

  • There will be a cost to your business, not just for contributions, but potentially for implementation, though good planning can reduce this.
  • Pensions providers are becoming saturated, getting your provider sorted out earlier than the rest is advisable.
  • It’s a significant change for you and your staff, so a clear communication plan is essential.

Your next steps

If you do nothing else yet, the important things for today are:

  • Check when your staging is.
  • Make a note of your 12 months pre planning date.
  • Talk to your HR support about the steps you will need to take.

So in a nutshell, it’s coming, it affects all employers, and planning properly can take away the headache of implementing this for your employees, and potentially reduce the cost.

Latest HR legislation changes and updates

It’s our aim to keep you up-to-date with forthcoming changes in employment law, and tell you ‘in a nutshell’ what this means for you. So here is what’s happening currently or in the near future.

On its way in 2015…

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – April

This new scheme takes effect for parents (or adopters) whose babies are due on or after 5th April 2015, and enables mothers to share 50 weeks of their 52 weeks maternity leave (and 37 or their 39 weeks statutory maternity pay) with their partner. It seeks to move away from the current inflexible arrangements for maternity and paternity leave and create a more equal system allowing both parents to assist with childcare and keep a strong link with their workplace. The mother and her partner can take their leave together if they wish, or in succession.
This means that from 5th April, you could receive a request from your employee to take SPL so we recommend that you start reviewing and updating any existing maternity, paternity and adoption policies, and prepare a policy and procedure for SPL.

Fit for Work Service – rolling out through 2015

This is a free government service that aims to help you manage sickness absence in your workplace, and provide you with access to an occupational health service that is free of charge.  You will be able to make a free referral for an occupational health assessment for employees who have reached 4 weeks of sickness absence, thereby receiving advice and recommendations get your employee back to work.
There will be a phased roll out of the referral service with further details likely to be announced soon, so we will keep you up to date.  At this point we recommend you review any existing sickness absence policies to reflect this new service.

Pensions Auto-enrolment – impacting SMEs from 2015

You’ll have already seen information on this from us, but just as a reminder this is starting to impact smaller organisations from now and takes at least 12 months planning time.  Every organisation employing people (even just one) will have a Staging Date, which is when you need to have implemented your auto-enrolment by.  It’s easy to find out when your Staging Date is so we urge you to do this and work back from there.  Just enter your PAYE reference into the Pensions Regulator tool.

Holiday Pay

It’s worth mentioning this topic as you’ll have probably heard lots in the media.  Late last year in a UK Employment Appeal Tribunal case (Bear Scotland versus Fulton), the courts ruled that holiday pay should include both guaranteed and non-guaranteed overtime.  The government has since taken action to reduce the potential cost of huge backdated claims on employers by limiting backdated claims to 2 years.  These changes apply to claims made on or after 1st July 2015.

Summary of changes from 2014

Just as a reminder, here’s the key changes from last year.  Just contact us if you require further information or support updating your current policies and procedures.

  • Increased penalties for employers who do not pay the minimum wage (current standard adult hourly rate is £6.50).
  • Early conciliation of dispute claims by ACAS prior to employment tribunal claims.This has reduced tribunals by 80%.
  • Increased penalty up to £20,000 for illegally employing an immigrant – are your employment checks in place?
  • The right to request flexible working extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service.
  • A mother’s partner has the right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.
  • A new employment allowance to reduce employers NI contributions bill.