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Are employers asleep or simply in denial over auto enrolment?

With mounting evidence indicating that many employers are missing their staging dates for auto enrolment implementation, it is becoming worryingly apparent that the rollout amongst SME’s is not going as smoothly as had been hoped.
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This feature was placed by Friendly Pensions

A number of major providers (including Friendly Pensions) have said that the predicted flow of April stagers has simply not materialised. Does this mean that we are seeing a blatant disregard for the legislation or are these employers simply unaware of their obligations and timescales? 

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The fact of the matter is that we simply don’t know. However, a recent survey undertaken by Friendly Pensions throws up some interesting points.

The survey results show that a huge 95 per cent of respondents are aware of auto enrolment, but 24 per cent do not know when their staging date is. More worryingly 39 per cent say they are not ready for auto enrolment with 47 per cent of those due to stage within the next 6 months.

So it would appear that the vast majority of employers are aware of the legislation but many simply have not put a plan in place for implementation.

With nearly a quarter unsure of their staging date, has the Pensions Regulator done enough to get the message across? or is this more a cost based decision with employers choosing to ignore auto enrolment altogether.

The survey showed that 55% of respondents are of the belief that auto enrolment will add additional costs to their business, and a further 19% are unsure. When asked if the potential added costs are a concern 29% of those who are expecting additional costs said yes.

Interestingly, the results do indicate that most employers feel that auto enrolment is a good idea. When asked, 53% said yes they think auto enrolment is a good thing, 21% said they believe it is a bad idea and 26% had no opinion either way.

Nick Ayton, Managing Director of Friendly Pensions said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that all is not going well with the rollout of auto enrolment amongst the smaller and medium sized businesses. 

The Pensions Regulator needs to do more to get the message across to these employers that auto enrolment is a legal requirement, and must be undertaken within the timescales set out.

This just demonstrates that the government is not on the ball and has not invested sufficiently in making sure SMEs are informed of their obligations. Whether, at a time of austerity, this is an intentional move to increase income through fines, or simply ineffective management I do not know, but what is clear is that the regulator has not connected effectively, and expects SMEs, who are time and resource poor, to simply get the message. A series of letters and poor information is not good enough and has left the door open to confusion, misunderstanding and denial. 

We are now in a situation where SMEs clearly consider the regulator a toothless Tiger as do many in this sector. At Friendly Pensions we are not leaving it to chance and we are active in informing and reminding SMEs of their obligations.

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