Employers: start planning early

Around two thirds of employers who have auto-enrolled their staff found it ‘more difficult than they had anticipated’.

That’s according to the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST).

The NEST Insight report, published on January 28, says 63% of employers surveyed in 2013 had ‘encountered unexpected challenges’, while 55% ‘found it difficult to understand the legalities’ of Auto Enrolment (AE).

NEST also said a fifth of employers took 16 months to prepare for AE, echoing warnings from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to firms to prepare early.

Among employers that will stage in 2014, 90% expect to seek advice on which scheme to choose, yet only half said they were willing to pay for it.

At least there is a much larger proportion of employers who now know their staging date.

Back in 2012 68% of employers with 100-999 workers in their business knew their date; now that figure has gone up to 93%.

But there are only 68% of employers with firms of 50-99 workers who know their staging date, according to the NEST report.

A third of employers staging in 2014 either currently run no scheme, or have a stakeholder in place.

NEST chief executive Tim Jones said: “The success of AE so far, with low opt-out rates and over 2.5 million workers auto-enrolled in a workplace pension, is due in large part to the efforts of first year employers.

“But 2014 sees a new set of employers meeting their duties and they may find it more difficult than their predecessors.

“Our research suggests that nine out of ten employers will expect help to fill any gaps in experience, expectations and knowledge.

“Our research also suggests that intermediaries are gearing up to help, but it’s vital that providers, intermediaries and employers work together to ensure the next wave of employers can meet their duties successfully.”