UK Pension Auto Enrolment Extended to SME’s and Small Business Employers

Employers, freelancers and SME’s in the virtual industries will be affected by changes in employee pension scheme.

Auto enrolment is being extended to firms with fewer than 30 employees. The new pension rules encourage employees to start saving for retirement with employers and the government contributing the pot automatically. For many employers, particularly small and micro businesses, the introduction of automatic enrolment is a new and unfamiliar process.

Firms with fewer than 30 employees are now being phased into the scheme. It is expected that all employers will be part of the scheme by February 2018.

The first batch of small to micro employers  (less than 30 staff) began to enrol in the scheme on 1 June 2015. The current total minimum auto-enrolment payment is 2% of salary; that level is set to rise to a total of 8% by 2018. Currently employers must contribute 1% of an employee's qualifying earnings, but from October 2017 this will increase to 2%, going up to 3% in October 2018.

Around 14,000 small and micro businesses will reached their staging dates in June, with tens of thousands more coming on board over the next two years.

A recent survey found that nearly one in three firms had submitted their application at the last minute or missed the deadline altogether. Employers failing to comply with auto-enrolment duties or missing their staging date can receive fixed penalties, statutory notices and even court action. All employers should check their staging date and make sure they are properly prepared.

Employers are being ushered into the scheme progressively and they can use their PAYE reference number to check exactly when they will reach their "staging date" – the date auto-enrolment duties come into effect.

More than five million employees are in a workplace pension scheme so far. As many as 1.3million employers will have to automatically enrol up to 10million eligible workers.

Source: Pensions Regulator