If you are an employer who has not yet made the necessary arrangements for the introduction of auto-enrolled workplace pensions, you could be set to become the victim of a time bomb that is already ticking.
Understanding your obligations arising from auto-enrolment is not easy – the specific ‘staging date’ on which the new rules apply to you depends on your PAYE number, so there is no one deadline for all companies to work towards.
But there is lots to do before your own deadline arrives, and failure to get the necessary arrangements in place promptly could leave you scrambling to find a suitable pension plan in the final days.
Historically, pensions have been seen as something of a bonus or benefit – employees largely have not elected to join a workplace pension plan, and many employers have not made them a priority either.
But auto-enrolment means there is no longer an excuse for treating workplace pensions as a secondary concern – they must be given their rightful place at the top of the agenda.
What’s more, as the staging dates for more and more companies pass, the available advisors with the necessary knowledge to help implement workplace pensions will continue to dwindle, and the space available on the pension plans themselves may also begin to dry up.
For SMEs that fail to act in time, this leaves the risk of being unable to find a scheme with sufficient capacity still available, and to implement it properly in time for the relevant staging date.
The consequences of this are as yet unclear – financial sanctions may be unlikely during the transition period, but the reputational risks of appearing to be poorly managed could be the biggest direct threat to SMEs that get this wrong.