The Pensions Regulator has warned hundreds of thousands of small and micro employers that they must meet their new workplace auto enrolment duties and should check when they are required to do this by.
The Pensions Regulator issued this warning following the publication of new research that showed nearly two thirds of all small and micro employers were not aware of the exact date that they need to start complying with the automatic enrolment legislation. The 'Employer automatic enrolment research Spring 2015' is a twice yearly report that has been tracking the awareness of the auto enrolment amongst employers and intermediaries since its inception in 2012.
Not being aware of their staging date could lead to some employers facing hefty fines which could seriously impact their business or even put it under threat. The other issue that their lack of awareness could result in is a squeeze on the availability of qualified advice as small and micro employers rush last minute to implement auto enrolment and fulfill their obligations.
But are intermediaries as aware as they should be?
Some companies will call in the services of specialist auto enrolment advisors but the vast majority will first turn to intermediaries that they already work with such as accountants, bookkeepers, payroll administrators and accountants. But how confident are they with dealing with auto enrolment queries? In the Pensions Regulator's recent survey, Employer automatic enrolment research Spring 2015: Summary report, intermediaries were asked:
"When you spoke with your clients, to what extent do you feel you were able to answer their questions?"
The statistics for those that were fully able to answer their client's queries are as follows:
- Accountant: 34%
- Payroll: 54%
- Bookkeeper: 20%
- IFA 63%
All of these figures have risen since the last survey, the payroll administrator's percentage has done so significantly, rising from 33% to 54%, but this is perhaps not surprising as they are in the 'front-line' of auto enrolment. It's expected that the figures across the board will rise even more as more SME and micro businesses auto enrol, as it is these businesses that tend to use external advisors rather than the larger businesses who tend to deal with issues such as auto enrolment in-house.