By Daniel Hunter

With today (Tuesday) marking the date by which companies with 800 - 1249 employees must have enrolled eligible employees into a workplace pension, specialist consultancy Creative Auto Enrolment is urging smaller businesses to plan ahead and get ready for the legislation, after it found several larger businesses struggling to prepare in time.

“Just last week I took at least two distress calls from large businesses panicking because they’re completely under prepared for auto enrolment and will struggle to meet the requirements in time” explains David White, Managing Director of Creative Auto Enrolment.

“And these are well-established businesses with dedicated HR and finance departments — many small and medium sized businesses will have no such functions and expertise to handle this major change.

“SMEs may think they have plenty of time to prepare but staging dates are fast approaching and recent research we undertook with the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that getting ready for auto enrolment could take up to 103 man days per firm, with 33 different admin tasks to consider — that’s a lot more work than many business owners envisage. It’s vital that small and medium sized businesses don’t bury their heads in the sand and start to think about auto enrolment now.”

According to Creative Auto Enrolment, SMEs should be taking the following three steps:

1. Identify your staging date: The Pensions Regulator’s website is a good starting point and will help businesses to pinpoint, based on company size, the time they have left until they must have implemented auto enrolment for all staff.

2. Get to grips with what auto enrolment is about: With over 250 pages of notes available from The Pensions Regulator, the scale of the guidance alone may feel daunting, but it’s crucial that businesses understand the changes and what they mean, especially if they’re attempting to handle all auto enrolment activity themselves. What do you need to do, when do you need to do it and who is going to be responsible for these tasks in your company?

3. Seek external support and guidance: Whether speaking to a trusted business adviser or seeking the expert advice of a company that specialises in implementing auto enrolment solutions for businesses, an external perspective will prove invaluable in helping understand your own individual business challenge.

“While auto enrolment may present a challenge, there are simple, tangible steps that employers can take to start to understand exactly what will be involved for their company so that they’re well prepared” White adds. “Forewarned is forearmed, and no business stands to benefit from putting off tackling the issue.”

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