acqValue chartered certified accountants

Auto Enrolment Guide

Introduction

A workplace pension is a way of saving for retirement that’s arranged by an employer. Other names for workplace pensions are “occupational”, “works”, “company” or “work-based” pensions. Most new pension schemes are now “money purchase” also known as “defined contribution” or “DC” schemes. The following information only deals with money purchase scheme. Other schemes are known as defined benefit schemes and are not dealt with here.

All employers will be required by law to automatically enrol eligible job holders into a pension scheme and make contributions into that scheme. Employers with no one in the pensions scheme will still need to perform many administrative and record keeping tasks.

Many employers have already started automatically enrolling staff into a pension scheme and by the beginning of 2018 all employers will be required by law to follow suit.

Don't leave it too late!  Preparing for "Staging" (explained below) will require a significant amount of time and resource.  The employer needs to allow six to nine months prior to the staging date. According to AccountingWeb a recent survey of 500 small businesses  showed that for companies staging over the next three years 11% don't know about auto enrolment and that almost one in five (19%) will leave auto enrolment until the last minute due to other priorities.

What can we do?

As accountants we are able to advise clients on the following issues:

  • Staging dates for enrolment
  • Who are eligible job holders for the purposes of auto enrolment
  • Provide clients' pension scheme with details of workers to enrol
  • Ensuring that systems are compliant
  • Register the client with The Pensions Regulator and keep records
  • Arrange for pensions contributions to be paid to the pension provider
  • Tax implications

acqValue can also advise on the selection of an appropriate scheme which is compliant with auto enrolment and where there is an existing scheme in place, check whether it qualifies as an automatic enrolment scheme.  However, we are not qualified to advise an individual employee on the merits of joining a scheme as this is regarded as a regulated activity and we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to carry out regulated activities. An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) would be able to provide impartial advice although you will usually have to pay for this.  

Further Support

If you would like more information on auto-enrolment, please complete the form below and we will get in touch:

 
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Staging Dates

This is the date that automatic enrolment first applies as a legal duty to an employer.  It is determined by the size of the employer's largest PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012.  Employers that share their PAYE scheme with other companies will in most cases have the same staging dates. Employers should start staging preparation well in advance of their staging date, to be in a position to make well informed decisions.

Employers must meet their obligations from their staging date which can be found by using The Pensions Regulator - TPR Website tool.

You need to establish which workers would fall under the following categories.

 

1. Eligible Jobholders

"Eligible jobholders" is a phrase used for workers who must , if they are not currently enrolled in a qualifying scheme, be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme.  To be an "eligible jobholder" a worker must be:

  • Aged between 22 years old and State Pension age
  • Earn more that £10,000 per year
  • Work in the UK

An employer must give their eligible jobholders information about their workplace pension scheme.

2. Non Eligible Jobholders

"Non-eligible Jobholders" is a phrase for workers who are not eligible for auto enrolment but can choose to opt into an auto enrolment pension scheme.

Non-eligible jobholders are either:

1. Aged between 16 and 74 years of age; and

  • Are working or ordinarily work in the UK under their contracts; and
  • Have qualifying earnings payable by the employer which are more than the lower earnings threshold and not more than the earnings trigger for automatic enrolment.

OR

2.  Aged between 16 and 21, or state pension age and 74 years of age; and

  • Are working or ordinarily work in the UK under their contracts; and
  • Have qualifying earnings payable by the employer which are more than the lower earnings threshold and not more than the earnings trigger for automatic enrolment.

For 2015/2016 the lower earnings threshold is £5,824 per annum, £486 per month, £112 per week. The earnings trigger for automatic enrolment is £10,000 per annum.

The state pension age at April 2014 is 62 for women and 65 for men.

Non-eligible jobholders do not need to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. However, they have the right to opt in to an automatic enrolment scheme, if they choose, so an employer still has duties in relation to them.

An employer must give their non-eligible jobholders certain information about opting into an automatic enrolment scheme and what this means for them.

The employer must give this information to the non-eligible jobholder within six weeks of the later of:

  • ·       The employer’s staging date; or
  • ·       The non-eligible jobholder’s first day of employment.

If a non-eligible jobholder chooses to opt into a pension scheme, they must do so by giving an “opt-in notice”. On receipt of a valid opt-in notice, the employer must enrol the non-eligible jobholder into an automatic enrolment scheme by following the automatic enrolment process. The employer will then need to pay employer contributions to the scheme and deduct contributions from the jobholders pay and pay these to the scheme.

 

3. Entitled Workers

“Entitled workers” is a phrase used for workers who are "entitled' to join a pensions scheme. However, their earnings  are at or below the lower earnings threshold.  They are not eligible for automatic enrolment but can choose to join a pension scheme.

Entitled workers are:

Aged between 16 and 74; and

Working or ordinarily work in the UK under their contract; and

Have qualifying earnings payable by the employer in the relevant pay reference period but below the lower earnings threshold.

Entitled workers do not need to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. However, they have the right to join a pension scheme, if they choose, so an employer still has duties in relation to them. The pension scheme the employer chooses to use can be a different scheme to the one they may be using for automatic enrolment.

An employer must give their entitled workers certain information about joining a pension scheme and what this means for them.

The employer must give this information to the entitled worker within six weeks of the later of:

  • ·       The employer’s staging date; or
  • ·       The non-eligible jobholder’s first day of employment.

If an entitled worker chooses to join a pension scheme, they must do so by giving the employer a “joining notice”. On receipt of a joining notice, the employer must then arrange membership of a scheme for them.

 

The employer will then need to deduct contributions on behalf of the entitled worker and pay these into the scheme. However, the employer does not have to pay into the scheme themselves, unless they choose to do so, or have chosen a scheme that requires an employer contribution.

Money deducted from pay

A percentage of the workers pay will be deducted automatically by the employer every payday. This together with contributions from the employer and the government will be paid into the workers pension pot. The employer needs to pay the contributions to the pension scheme within a specified time limit. Contributions must be paid to the pension pot no later than 22nd day (19th if paid by cheque) of the month after the deduction from pay was made.

The money is normally invested within the pension pot by the pension scheme administrators. Sometimes employees have a say into what type of investments the pension pot holds, and sometimes the investments are decided on by the pension scheme administrator.

How much will the contributions be?

The minimum the employer pays into the workers pension pot is 1% of their “qualifying earnings” which will rise to 3% by 2018. The minimum amount that will be deducted from employee pay and paid into their pension pot will be 0.8% of their “qualifying earnings” which will rise to 4% by 2018. The government pays into the worker's pension pot 0.2% of their “qualifying earnings which will rise to 1% by 2018.

 

The minimum contributions are set out in the following table:  

                                                 Employer     Employee    Government        Total

Start date to 30 Sept 2017          1%                     0.8%           0.2%                2%

1 Oct 2017 to 30 Sep 2018          2%                    2.4%           0.6%                5%

1 October 2018 onwards             3%                     4.0%           1.0%                8%

 

 

“Qualifying earnings” are either:

  • The amount earned before tax between £5,824 and £42,835 a year
  • The entire salary or wages before tax

The employer chooses how to work out the workers earnings. The employer can put the worker in a scheme where the worker and/or the employer have to pay more than the legal minimum. In other cases the worker and the employer have the option to pay in more than the legal minimum. The worker can pay in less – as long as the employer puts in enough to meet the legal minimum.

The employer decides the minimum and maximum amounts the worker and the employer can pay in. 

Effect on tax credits, income-related benefits or student loan repayments

Joining a workplace pension scheme means the workers take-home pay will be reduced which may:

  • Mean they are entitled to tax credits or increase the amount of tax credits they get
  • Mean they are entitled to an income-related benefit or increase the amount of benefit they  get
  • Reduce the amount of student loan repayments they need to make.

Withdrawing money from the pension pot

The worker can’t usually take the money out before they are 55 years old unless they are seriously ill. There are restriction regarding ‘tax’ free withdrawals.

The worker managing their pension

The pension provider will usually send the worker a statement each year to tell them how much is in their pension pot.

The worker may be able to nominate (choose) someone to get their pension if they die. This can usually be done at any time and the nomination can be changed at any time.

Changing jobs and taking leave

If the worker changes jobs their workplace pension still belongs to them. The money will still be invested and they will be able to withdraw it as explained above.

If they get another job they will be able to join the workplace pension arranged by their new employer. Depending on the schemes rules they may be able to:

  •  Carry on making contributions to their old pension
  • Transfer the pension pot built up with the old employer to the new pension scheme

During paid leave, the worker and the employer carry on making pension contributions. The amount the worker contributes is based on their actual pay during this time, but the employer pays contributions based on the salary the worker would have received if they weren’t on leave.

During unpaid leave, the employer doesn’t have to make pension contributions unless the contract with the worker says otherwise. The worker may be able to make contributions if they want to but they should check with the employer or pension scheme provider.

If the worker wants to leave your workplace pension scheme

If the worker wasn’t automatically enrolled then they will need to check with the employer as to what they need to do.

If they were automatically enrolled then they can leave (called opting out) if they want to.

If they opt out within a month of the employer adding them to the pension scheme, they’ll get back the money they’ve already paid in.

What if the worker wants to reduce contributions?

The rules of the pension scheme may allow them to reduce their contributions to the workplace pension for a short time. They should check with both their employer and the pension scheme provider to see if they can do this.

The worker will be able to opt back in to the workplace pension scheme at any time by writing to your employer. You have to be accepted back into their workplace scheme once in every 12 months and then you and your employer will make contributions into the scheme again although if the worker is an “entitled worker” the employer is not obliged to make contributions.

If the worker opts out of their workplace pension scheme the employer should automatically enrol them back into that scheme after 3 years, as long as that worker still qualifies as an “eligible jobholder”. The employer should write to that “eligible jobholder” when they do this although at that time the “eligible jobholder” can again opt out.

Further advice

At acqValue we are able to help clients with the auto enrolment process.  It is important the firms take steps early to ensure the best outcome for their workers. The employer faces potentially hefty fines if they get auto enrolment wrong and should turn to their accountants for help in the first instance.

If you wish to enquire about our auto enrolment services please provide complete a contact form on the contact us page or give us a call on 020 8004 8828.

For questions about the specific terms of your workplace pension scheme you should ask your pension scheme provider.

For free impartial information about workplace pension options contact:

The Money Advice Service

The Pensions Advisory Service

If the worker is concerned about the way the employer is dealing with their automatic enrolment into a workplace pension The Pensions Regulator can investigate these.

Also The Pensions Advisory Service may be able to help with these concerns

The workplace pensions enrolment tool may also be helpful to find out how the workers should be affected by auto-enrolment

 

 

LEGAL NOTICE:  This is a basic guide.  As such it should not be used as a definitive guide, since individual circumstances may vary. Specific advice should be obtained, where necessary.