Now that a new tax year is upon us, it is an excellent time to assess your pension policies and iron out any issues.
Spring has sprung, and it's the season to make sure that everything is straightened out and fully compliant. The last year has been a bombardment of pension announcements, schemes and staging dates. Now that auto-enrolment is fully in effect, April is the perfect time to dust off any concerns and make sure that your business is putting its best foot forward for the new financial year, and understands its obligations.
Even if your auto-enrolment staging date has passed.
While your staging date may be in the past, your responsibility as an employer does not end there. Auto-enrolment is a continuing responsibility that every employer has to stay on top of all year round. While it may have felt like a mad rush to get your business set up with a workplace pension scheme in time for your specified staging date, that chaos is in the past. Now is the perfect time to sort out any potential issues and make sure that your system is running smoothly, and that it is beneficial to you and your employees.
The Pensions Regulator are coming down hard on the businesses that did not comply with their auto-enrolment staging date, or their ongoing obligations of paying the required pension contributions, they are dealing out hefty fines. While your business may have ticked the boxes and got ready for your staging date, any failure when it comes to ongoing compliance may mean you are hit with a penalty when you least expect it. To make sure that your business avoids a nasty wake-up call, conduct these spring cleaning tasks to ensure your pension scheme is consistently compliant.
Spring Cleaning Tasks For Auto Enrolment
1. Monitor Your Staff
As you welcome new employees to your team, it is important that you assess them and automatically enrol those that are eligible in your workplace pensions plan within the required timescales As well as staying on top of your new staff members, you may have staff members whose eligibility for auto-enrolment has changed. Auto-enrolment only applies to workers aged 22 and over, so it is important to regularly check the birthdays of your employees, just in case you have workers that are now old enough to be eligible for pensions auto-enrolment.
While this may seem a tedious and laborious task, there are clever software packages available that check for eligibility automatically by accessing the payroll system. As these programmes and payroll systems are automatic, you can make sure that your business or HR department can easily monitor the ages and earnings of staff at all times. At Options Pensions, our software package will even send emails to the eligible staff reminding them to confirm their auto-enrolment duties, saving you valuable time. This can really be a weight off of your shoulders.
Devising a reminder system or embracing a software package that helps you to monitor staff eligibility and keep your pension administration tasks in control is a truly useful spring cleaning task. Taking a few moments to do this will ensure that your business is fully in control of auto-enrolment, and it will save valuable time. It may even save you from a financial penalty.
2. Records Management
As well as ensuring that all newly eligible employees are accounted for, all automatic enrolment activities must be recorded efficiently. To make your auto-enrolment activities manageable and stress-free, a robust and systematic way of managing records is essential.
A new tax year is a perfect time to do away with a cluttered file that is difficult to use and impossible to control. Instead, spend the time finding a new easy to use a system that will save you time in the long run and will help to reduce mistakes that could lead to fines.
Automatic enrolment records that you need to manage include:
· The names and addresses of staff who have enrolled
· When contributions were paid into a scheme
· Staff opt-in notices
· Pension plan reference and registry numbers
· Pension provider information
The Pensions Regulator have made it a requirement that you must keep the information listed above for six years, as well as keep all opt-out notices from staff for four years. If you need any other suggestions or tips on how to manage your records, the team at Options Pensions are here to help. Call or email us today.
3. Pay contributions on time and set aside a contingency fund
While this one seems obvious, it is important that businesses routinely consider their pension contribution payments and ensure there are contingency measures in place in case of unexpected events.
Ultimately, the responsibility of paying contributions into employee pensions lies with the employer. The new tax year is a perfect time to set out your action plan of pensions for the next year, and to make sure that you have adequate protection from any unexpected pension problems.
As it is a responsibility to keep pension scheme records for six years, it is wise to set up a process for saving and backing up the data with a second source just in case your first system is compromised. It is also wise to have a process in place for how to deal with issues such as the contributions not being paid or financial difficulty, by getting prepared with procedures now could save you time and stress in the future.
Now that the new tax year has started, following these three steps will ensure that you have a successful and profitable year ahead. Need some help getting everything sorted and in order? Contact the friendly pensions experts at Options Corporate Pensions . Our skilled and experienced team members are on hand to help answer any questions that you may have and help you in the year ahead. Happy Spring Cleaning!