Small Businesses ‘Confused’ About New Auto-Enrol Pensions Scheme

Legal Experts Say SMEs Need Help Staying On Top Of Pension Reforms

13.01.2016

Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A survey has revealed that almost half of small businesses affected by new rules which mean they must automatically enrol staff into a workplace pension scheme are confused about their responsibilities.

More than a million firms are affected by the new regulations which are coming into force over the next two years.

But according to results of a survey by Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 45% of those asked were unclear on the rules.

Despite the claims, the Pensions Regulator said the auto enrolment scheme had been a success.

Auto-enrolment implementation has come under fire for the effects it has had on small businesses and around 25% of those surveyed by the FSB said they feared that their business might not be able to cope with the extra cost.

Since 2012, 5.4 million workers have been signed up to a workplace pension under the auto-enrolment programme.

In the next three months, 100,000 employers are required to enrol their employees.

Last year the government spent £8.5m on a major advertising campaign featuring Workie - a 10ft hairy monster - aimed at ensuring small businesses pay attention to the new rules.

Bosses are being warned that they need to offer pensions to anyone who is over the age of 22 and who earns more than £10,000 a year.

The new rules mean that professionals such as cleaners, nannies, care workers, plumbers and bar staff would all need to be under a workplace pension scheme.

"Our message for small employers is auto enrolment is coming and will affect your business - and the sooner you get to grips with what you need to do, the better off you will be," said John Allan, FSB national chairman.

The FSB also said that employees should pay attention to their rights, and ensure they are being given the appropriate pension provision and contributions.

Expert Opinion
The UK's private sector pension provision was the envy of the western world and a big part of the success was that employers built their own pension funds.

The Automatic-Enrolment structure is government led and regulation heavy and businesses need to get on top of the new legal obligations to avoid further cost later down the line.

We’ve already seen that the Pensions Regulator is willing to clamp down on larger organisations for non-compliance - there is no reason to think they would not take similar action against smaller companies.
Martin Jenkins, Partner