By Claire West

As it is revealed that the number of people enrolled on workplace pension schemes has fallen to the lowest level since records began, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomes the start of statutory auto-enrolment in larger companies.

The challenges, opportunities and lessons learned around auto-enrolment will be discussed at the CIPD’s Annual Conference and Exhibition this November. Julie Parker-Welch, Reward Manager at Marks & Spencer, will be joined by Dermot Coutier, Head of Group Pensions at Kingfisher plc, to provide expertise in terms of managing the auto-enrolment reforms and dealing with their impact on wider HR processes.

In a survey of more than 1,000 employers, the CIPD found last year that while the vast majority of private and voluntary sector employers were fully aware of imminent changes to workplace pension schemes, preparedness for auto-enrolment was less widespread, with less than one third of employers knowing the date on which the new rules would actually apply to them.

There was also general confusion among larger employers about who was taking the lead on preparation for auto-enrolment and whether anyone was working out the cost implications.

One year on, the forthcoming CIPD Reward risk survey report indicates that auto-enrolment is becoming more of a priority for employers as a higher proportion of respondents cite pension costs have been a greater concern over the past 12 months and predict that it will become even more so over the coming year.

Charles Cotton, Reward Adviser at CIPD, comments: “Automatic pension enrolment is the biggest shake up of workplace pensions for a generation. While employers are becoming more aware of the legal requirements, they are also looking for practical ideas and tips and how best to implement these changes - whether it is ensuring that the processes and procedures are fit for purpose or how best to engage with employees so as to communicate these changes. Of course, auto-enrolment is only one of the three great workplace reforms that are impacting on organisations and employees in the next 12 months.

The others are Real Time Information, which will change the way that pay is administered, and Universal Credit, which will have far reaching implications for the pool of available talent available to employers.”