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The Workplace Pension Auto Enrolment has been introduced by the Government to help people save for later life and there are numerous mandatory obligations that will be imposed on all employers, regardless of the number of employees they have. There are exceptions for sole director companies or director-only companies where one or less of them has a contract of employment. Sole trader and partnership businesses without staff are not obliged to comply with Auto Enrolment.

All employers are now legally required to enrol eligible members of staff into a Qualifying Workplace Pension Scheme and make minimum contributions to it.  Employees who are not legally required to enrol can choose to opt in if they wish. Employers who already have an existing pension scheme in place may need to make changes to it so that it complies with the new regulations, which will be policed and enforced by the Pensions Regulator.

Eligible Jobholders (aged between 22 and state pension age) are automatically enrolled

Non-eligible Jobholders have the right to opt in and receive employer contributions

Entitled Workers – can join but not entitled to employer contributions 



  Staging Date to 05/04/2018 06/04/2018 to 05/04/2019 06/04/2019 onwards
Employee 0.8% 2.4% 4.0%
HMRC 0.2% 0.6% 1.0%
Employer 1.0% 2.0% 3.0%
Total 2.0% 5.0% 8.0%


The point at which your Automatic Enrolment duties start is called your “Staging Date”. This is when the law comes into effect for your business. The Pensions Regulator will write to you to alert you of what is happening and to confirm your staging date. You can also find out your staging date by clicking here.


The Government has set a number of staging dates as follows:

Large Employers 250+ staff October 2012 to February 2014
Medium Employers 50 to 249 staff April 2014 to April 2015
Small Employers up to 49 staff June 2015 to August 2017


New Employers will start automatic enrolment from May 2017


Around 45,000 businesses each month have been 'staging' from January 2016 and it is expected there will be a demand problem that could leave you struggling to find an adviser and a scheme as the last deadline approaches. The Financial Management Centre recommend planning well in ahead of your allocated staging date to your business is fully prepared. There are over 30 mandatory pension duties which are time consuming, complex to manage and expensive to run, which include:

  • Choosing a Qualifying Pension Scheme
  • Assessing your staff to ascertain which category of worker they fall into
  • Writing to employees to confirm how Auto Enrolment affects them, ensuring the right information goes to the right category of employee at the right time
  • Ensuring contributions are paid correctly and on time
  • Completing a declaration of compliance to confirm to the Pensions Regulator that you have fulfilled your legal duties
  • Keeping records of Auto Enrolment activities including all correspondence with the pension provider and employees


Managing the auto enrolment process is continuous as employees have to be reassessed at every pay period. Employers cannot induce employees to opt out, but any communication must tell them that opting out is an option. Employers cannot refuse to employ someone who wants to join the scheme.

Failure to comply with the legislation will be costly, as the Pensions Regulator will issue penalty notices for persistent and deliberate non-compliance, starting with a fixed penalty of £400 for not complying with statutory notices or if there is sufficient evidence of a breach of law. Persistent offenders will receive escalating daily penalties for failing to comply with a statutory notice depending on the size of their business:

  • Up to 4 employees           £50 per day
  • 5 to 49 employees           £500 per day
  • 50 to 249 employees       £2,500 per day
  • 250 to 499 employees     £5,000 per day
  • Over 500 employees       £10,000 per day

The Pensions Regulator can issue civil penalties if contributions are not paid, of up to £5,000 for individuals, and £50,000 for organisations.

The Financial Management Centre have a low cost solution structured to help employers meet their requirements well ahead of their staging date allowing them to run their business without the stress or panic of finding a suitable pension scheme. Our Auto Enrolment solution manages the whole process for you, ensuring that you remain compliant and avoid costly fines. We're on hand to help and advise; if you have any questions or have received a letter from the Pensions Regulator and you are not sure what to do please contact us. We will be very happy to explain how we can take the hassle of Automatic Enrolment off you. 


The Financial Management Centre - Auto Enrolment Prices

£300 one off setup fee, from £25 per month  

With high numbers of businesses set to stage over the next 18 months or so we do suggest that you act as soon as possible to beat the rush. If, as is predicted, demand far outstrips supply then leaving it until nearer your staging date might be a bad decision, which could make this even more stressful and costly for you.

For more information download our free auto enrolment guide above, or alternatively contact your local office.