Majority of small firms could miss auto-enrolment pension deadline

Survey reveals 58% of businesses ‘still not ready’ for staging date next week

Most of the UK’s small and medium-sized firms are not ready for the impending auto-enrolment pension scheme deadline, a new survey commissioned by auto-enrolment service AutoenrolSME has claimed.

Addressing over 200 business owners of companies with between 62 to 249 staff, the survey found that 58% of respondents have yet to set up an auto-enrolment scheme ahead of the first staging date on April 1.

Businesses are legally required to set up a pension scheme for their employees ahead of the staging dates, which are staggered according to company size and are based on the number of persons within an employer’s PAYE scheme.

The study also found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of the businesses surveyed were unaware of the staging start date for their business.

The current staging dates are:

  • Companies with 250+ employees: staging date passed
  • 160-249 employees: 1 April 2014
  • 90-159 employees: 1 May 2014
  • 62-89 employees: 1 July 2014

Of the companies that admitted not having set up a pension scheme ahead of the staging date, the overwhelming majority (90%) said they had not started researching or investigating such schemes.

AutoenrolSME said the apparent widespread complacency amongst businesses was worrying with deadlines fast approaching.

Rosie Smith, AutoEnrolSME marketing manager, commented on the study: “It’s clearly a worry that so many UK businesses aren’t ready and are unlikely to meet their legal obligations in providing a pension service for their staff.

“This could provide a windfall for the government in terms of penalties, but a headache for those smaller businesses that aren’t prepared.

“However, despite many panic mongers saying it takes months to get set up, small businesses can be up and running with an appropriate scheme in a matter of weeks!”

Business owners should not estimate staging dates based solely on current headcount and the government Pensions Regulator recommends employers check their staging date using its free tool, available here.

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