A new group has been set up in Swindon to raise awareness among businesses of compulsory legislation which demands that employers enrol staff into a workplace pension scheme.
The group is affiliated to a national organisation – the Friends of Automatic Enrolment – which was launched by the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals in response to the widespread lack of knowledge about automatic (or auto) enrolment.
Auto enrolment legislation carries a legal requirement for employers to enrol qualifying staff into pension schemes, and there are staging dates depending on the size of the businesses. From this year a huge wave of smaller firms will be pulled in, with a spike at the end of 2016 and into 2017. Experts have predicted a potential capacity crunch, as employers clamour for support and to find schemes that will accept them.
Nicki Goddard-Dady, payroll manager at Swindon-based chartered accountants Banks BHG – which runs hundreds of payrolls for clients – has set up the Swindon Friends of Auto Enrolment, so those involved can network and exchange expertise and knowledge.
“We held our first meeting at Banks BHG and had excellent feedback,” said Nicki. “We believe that by working collaboratively on the practical issues facing employers the Friends of Automatic Enrolment can motivate and educate employers to want to start preparing for automatic enrolment more swiftly than they otherwise would, and that is essentially what needs to happen to avoid many thousands of companies failing to implement successfully.
“We plan to hold our next meeting in June, and welcome anyone who wants to learn more about auto enrolment, either because they are a professional who will be supporting clients – such as other payroll managers, financial advisers or people in HR – or employers and professional bodies.
“There is so much to AE, that we are learning all the time. And there is very widespread ignorance, with some employers thinking it won’t affect them. This isn’t the case; all employers will need to enrol staff into a pension scheme, and there are stiff penalties for non-compliance.”
At the Swindon group’s next meeting on June 16, they hope to have a speaker from the Pension Regulator – the Government body overseeing AE. The first meeting was attended by founder and chair of Friends of AE, Andy Agathangelou, who congratulated the group on its success.
Nicki said: “I had been to meetings of the Bristol group, and I thought it was important to have a one in Swindon, because there are so many businesses here. There’s no membership fee, and it costs nothing to attend. We just want to spread awareness and share best practice.”
Banks BHG has been running its own series of free, open seminars about auto enrolment, to offer advice and information to employers. Its final seminar is on May 13, starting at 5.45pm. The event can be booked via www.banksbhg.org