The Pensions Regulator visits IRIS in Manchester

By Sam Thomas | 7th March 2016 | 14 min read

Last month Bryan McDaniel, Industry Liaison Manager at The Pensions Regulator, visited IRIS’ Manchester office to update us on the latest auto enrolment compliance and enforcement news and figures. Afterwards, we sat down with Bryan for a quick chat to get his views on the future of auto enrolment as we pass three years since the first businesses staged back in October 2012.

So what does Bryan see as the biggest challenge auto enrolment faces in 2016, nearly four years since its introduction? “Late engagement. The start of automatic enrolment for small and micro employers has been a success, with more than 90% of the first group to reach their staging date now compliant. Prepare early and avoid the risk of extra costs and fines.”

The Pensions Regulator estimates around 570,000 of the UK’s 5.4 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) will be staging for auto enrolment in the 12 months between April 2016 and April 2017 and we’ve already seen a rise in the number of non-compliance penalty fines being handed out, which suggests that SMEs may not be fully aware of their responsibilities. When asked why SMEs consider the whole auto enrolment process to be so complicated and expensive; Bryan replied, “it is human nature to perceive change as difficult.”

The Pensions Regulator have a range of helpful tools on their website to help SMEs comply with the changes. Bryan suggested the Duties Checker for those who are unsure about what they need to do; and there is also a Staging Date Calculator to identify when your business must begin contributing to a workplace pension scheme.

We then discussed the Declaration of Compliance, and Bryan was quick to emphasize the importance of it in order to maintain compliance after staging, “The vast majority of fines imposed to date, are for failing to complete the Declaration of Compliance. From a business point of view, the fines are meant to act as a deterrent. However, they can also consume management time and potentially harm an employer’s reputation. The fines are avoidable, providing employers do not leave it until the last moment.”

Finally, we asked Bryan if The Pensions Regulator expected to see the spike in the number of non-compliance fines being issued now that SMEs are staging continue. Bryan explained that “it’s no surprise that there has been an increase in the amount of times we [The Pensions Regulator] has used our statutory powers. I think we’ll continue to see the numbers rise in absolute terms, but we’re not expecting a particular spike. A large number of businesses are getting themselves compliant within the proper timeframe.”

Ultimately, however, The Pensions Regulator wants to see compliance with auto enrolment, and avoid using their fines. If you would like help with auto enrolment, we run free, bite-sized webinars on auto enrolment. The sessions are designed specifically for small employers and cover the basics of the workplace pension reform and what that means for your business.

The webinars are run by an expert on the workplace pension reform here at IRIS, and last for 30 minutes with time for questions afterwards. There are currently three dates in March to choose from.

Book my bite-size AE webinar (09/03)

Book my bite-size AE webinar (15/03)

Book my bite-size AE webinar (24/03)