Auto-enrolment Staging Dates

Thursday 19 March 2015

In the first of a series of articles focussing on specific aspects of auto-enrolment, Nathan Perry from Goddard Perry provides answers to FAQs below.

What is a Staging Date?
Each company with a worker or worker’s will have a specified ‘Staging Date’. From this date, the company must comply with the new Automatic Enrolment Employer Duties.

Can the staging date be changed?
It can be brought forward to an earlier date, but it cannot be delayed. Automatic enrolment of the appropriate workers can be postponed for up to three months from a staging date, but a company must be ready and have an appropriate pension in place from its staging date.

To bring it forward, a company must request confirmation it is acceptable to do so from both it's chosen pension provider and The Pensions Regulator beforehand. The Pensions Regulator request can be started here.

How is the staging date determined?

Staging dates are determined by the number of workers on the PAYE scheme as at 1 April 2012. Organisations with the largest number of PAYEs are staged earlier. This should not be calculated manually, it is easy confirm with the PAYE code(s) via The Pensions Regulator website here.

What happens if I have more than one PAYE scheme?
Each company has one staging date, which is determined by the largest PAYE. All workers for that company are given the same staging date.

One fact often overlooked is workers being paid via another company. If a small company employs a worker that is paid via a larger company’s PAYE scheme, the smaller company’s staging date is determined by the larger company’s PAYE scheme. This can have a significant impact on when a company must comply with the new duties.

Where can I get more information on staging dates?
The Pensions Regulator has created some excellent audio visual presentations that highlight some of the more unusual scenarios. 

The slides detail scenarios such as alternative staging dates for small employers with early staging dates, mergers and acquisitions, as well as company structure changes and new employers since April 2012.

What next?
When the staging date has been determined, advance planning can start.
There are varying recommendations about how long preparation takes, which is largely dependent on the complexity of the company, including worker relationships, systems and processes in place.

Small companies may be more complex due to less formal processes and procedures when compared with larger companies. By leaving it to the last minute, the time required to resolve any complications is unlikely to be enough.

We would recommend at least six months, but planning should start as soon as possible to identify any potential complications.

Where can I get help?
NAEA offer's Master Trust - a bespoke, one-stop shop auto-enrolment service for our members, designed to make the process as easy as possible in what is a complex area of employer pension administration. Other benefits of using the scheme are:

  • Guaranteed acceptance
  • Simple documentation
  • Corporate trustee compliance and governance
  • A 'one stop shop' solution
  • Online staff AE Assessment tool
  • No charges to members other than the competitive Annual Management Charge (AMC) of 0.65% per annum.

To register with the Master Trust click here, email, or call 020 8603 3700.

For companies that have completed registration for the Master Trust, there will be a number of educational bulletins issued automatically during the six months up to staging. These bulletins will focus on ensuring that the company has considered the right things in advance, it is not a recommendation to start planning six months in advance.