There aren’t many times in life when the benefit of experience and hindsight isn’t useful.
However, when it comes to Automatic Enrolment you will probably need to do it once, which means learning as you go.
Of course one way around the problem is to use the services of an adviser and tap into their experience. We’ve helped many firms comply with the new rules, so we thought we’d put together seven of the key lessons we’ve learnt.
Lesson #1: There’s an ideal time to start planning
Most people suggest you start to plan at least 12 months before your Staging Date.
Whilst there’s something to be said for this, the exact amount of time needed will vary from business to business. If key decisions need to be signed off by a number of people, or even a board of directors, it will certainly take more time. On the other hand, if one person has authority to make all the key decisions, less planning time will be needed.
There’s an ideal amount of time you should leave to plan and it’s different for each business; start planning too early and circumstances may change and your employees might forget important information. Leave it too late and you will be left in a rush to comply which could impact other areas of your business.
Lesson #2: There are bound holes in your data
Every business we’ve dealt with has believed their data was complete; without exception there have been holes and errors.
We’re not criticising the firms we have worked with in any way whatsoever, it’s just that the amount of data required to comply with the rules is vast.
Ensuring you have all the information you need is one of the earliest jobs you should get ticked off your ‘to do list’. If you’re not sure what information you need, call one of our experts today on 0115 933 8433, we’ll be able to help you.
Lesson #3: You might not be able to use your existing pension scheme
If you have an existing pension scheme don’t assume you will be able to use it to enrol any employees who have not yet joined.
Firstly, your existing scheme might not meet the tough new rules, especially when it comes to charges. Secondly, unbelievable as it sounds, the provider might not actually want more members to join the scheme. Either way, a new scheme might be needed.
If you already have a pension scheme in place, we’d recommending checking as soon as possible whether it can be used for Automatic Enrolment.
Lesson #4: Employee communication is key
There’s a fair chance your staff will know a bit about Automatic Enrolment. But they probably won’t know the details such as when, how much it will cost them, what they will get back etc.
Again timing is crucial; tell your staff too far in advance and you run the risk they will forget the details. Tell them too close to your Staging Date and you won’t give them time to plan or budget for the changes.
We’ve found that one of the best ways of communicating is through small workshops, which can be followed up with one to one meetings if necessary.
Lesson #5: Make it easy for your employees
If you’re going to run workshops make it easy for your employees to attend.
We’ve found they are most effective when they are run during normal working hours or if your business works in this way, at the end of a shift, which should ideally finish early to make time for the workshop.
Advertise them well and continually remind your staff that it’s important they attend; make them compulsory if necessary. The more people you get to attend, the better they will understand and the more they will see this as a benefit to them rather than a cost.
Lesson #6: Be prepared for questions
Running effective and well attended workshops will help to cut down on the questions you get asked, but it won’t eliminate them.
Our experience shows us that employee questions can take up valuable time and distract you from running your business.
Having an adviser on hand, face to face, over the telephone or via email who can field these questions will save you time and money; it will also mean you don’t have to answer potentially awkward or complex questions!
Lesson #7: Your Staging Date creeps up on you
Running any business means working to a series of deadlines, from submitting your accounts to filing your tax return and the dates have a nasty habit of creeping up on you.
Automatic Enrolment is no different.
Your Staging Date might be months or even years away, but it will arrive sooner than you think. Leave yourself plenty of time, ideally six months, longer if you know decisions take longer to make in your business.
We’re here to help you
We’re delighted to say that the businesses we’ve helped with Automatic Enrolment have all complied with the rules before their Staging Date. What’s more, their employees have been able to attend workshops to help increase their understanding of the changes.
If you want help with Automatic Enrolment we’re the first step is to pick up the phone and chat to one of our experts, they can be reached on 0115 933 8433, or if you prefer you can email firstname.lastname@example.org