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Auto enrolment is a term you will hopefully already be familiar with after a lot of publicity in 2016. Auto enrolment will see businesses become obliged to offer a pension scheme to its employees by 2018. While some of you might have already complied, there are still some smaller firms that are yet to meet their staging dates. If this is you, then make sure you, as an employer, are organised and ready to comply.

Find out your staging date:

The very first thing to do is check your staging date, if you do not already know this. You may find out your staging date by simply inputting your PAYE reference number. This is determined by the number of employees in your business at April 2012.

If you are a new employer, who set up a business after April 1st 2012 and are paying PAYE income for the first time, you will have a staging date that falls between 1st April 2012 and 30th September 2017. You can check these here:

Date PAYE income first payable Staging Date
Between 1 April 2012 & 31 March 2013 1 May 2017
Between 1 April 2013 & 31 March 2014 1 July 2017
Between 1 April 2014 & 31 March 2015 1 August 2017
Between 1 April 2015 & 31 December 2015 1 October 2017
Between 1 January 2016 & 30 September 2016 1 November 2017
Between 1 October 2016 & 30 June 2017 1 January 2018
Between 1 July 2017 & 30 September 2017 1 February 2018


Select an auto enrolment scheme:

If you have employees who are eligible you are legally obliged to conform, and will need to select a qualifying scheme. This is a pension scheme based either in the UK or within the European Economic Area that meets the automatic enrolment and qualifying criteria. This can sometimes be a little bit challenging, so contact us to seek advice on which would best fit your requirements.

Organise administrative procedures:

Once you are aware of your chosen scheme, it is important to take a number of administrative steps before your staging date arrives. These include contacting your scheme provider to understand the joining process and preparing data for this provider.

Gather information: 

One of the duties of an employer is to provide information to its employees about auto enrolment. This should include information about opting in and out of their pension scheme.

You must also think about how you are going to distribute this information to your staff. This could include sending by post, by hand, by email or by PDF attachment via email.

Set up payroll:

Many auto enrolment processes and on-going scheme membership aspects will be supported under your payroll system. It is important that you have a clear understanding of how you will make employer contributions and the components of pay included in the calculations, for example. Your accountant can support if you have any questions about the set up.

Be prepared for opt in and outs:

Make sure that you are aware of the different steps you might need to put in place should an employee decide to opt out. Equally you will need to become familiar with the different steps required for opting employees into a particular pensions scheme, including joining and contractual enrolment. 

Start in plenty of time: 

The auto enrolment process is a lengthy one. Ideally, you should begin the process AT LEAST six months prior to your staging date. It is also important to assess how on-going compliance will impact your business in the long term. It will mean that there are additional tasks for the allocated member of staff put in charge of auto enrolment.

You can read more in-depth information about auto enrolment guidance for employers here.

Let someone else lighten the load:

If you feel like the process of auto enrolment is a little overwhelming, it is possible to offload some of the actions to an external company, such as Acumen Accountants and Advisors. Our team can take care of letters, liaison with pension providers, while also lightening the load with payroll responsibilities and on-going pension administration responsibilities, freeing up your workers to continue with their everyday tasks.

If you would like to discuss any element of auto enrolment or if you have any concerns about your upcoming staging date, contact a member of the team here at Acumen Accountants and Advisors on 0845 270 1688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for support.