Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have been urged to check when they need to meet their new workplace pensions duties.
The call from the Pensions Regulator, the UK regulator of work-based pension schemes, follows research published on 24 September revealing that 19 per cent of small employers (employing between five and 29 people) and 49 per cent of micro employers (employing up to four people) were not aware of their staging date, the date on which they need to comply with automatic enrolment laws.
When the regulator checked employers’ actual staging date with what the employers believed it to be, accuracy was poor. Among small businesses, only 43 per cent of employers’ dates matched the regulator’s date and the figure was even lower for micro employers at 28 per cent.
The regulator recommends that employers should start preparing for automatic enrolment 12 months ahead of their staging date. Failure to prepare in good time puts employers at risk of non-compliance and could lead to financial penalties.
Charles Counsell, the regulator’s executive director of automatic enrolment, said that automatic enrolment was going well but warned there was no room for complacency.
He said: “Too many small and micro employers still don’t know when their staging date is. While we write to employers 12 months ahead of that date, it is important for them to check if they need to be ready by next summer – or later. The easiest way to do this is by using the staging date tool on the regulator’s website.”