By Daniel Hunter

Changes to automatic enrolment rules have been ushered in by the Pensions Minister Steve Webb. These changes will make it easier for future tranches of employers to enrol their workers into a pension scheme.

Since the launch of automatic enrolment in October 2012 the Department for Work and Pensions has listened keenly to feedback on how it has worked so far and what parts of the legislative framework could operate better.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said: "Employers and our partners in the pensions and payroll industry have made a major contribution in delivering these landmark reforms since October last year.

"Now, one year in, we want to build on this success as medium-sized employers prepare to automatically enrol their staff into a workplace pension. These changes are aimed at streamlining the system and making it easier for employers to meet their duties."

The government received 112 responses to its consultation launched earlier this year and has now finalised amendments to the regulations.

These changes include:

- alternative definitions of pay reference periods for both assessing jobholder status and determining whether a scheme is a qualifying scheme
- the automatic enrolment joining window is extended from one month to 6 weeks
- the deadline for employers to provide information to individuals on their opt in and joining rights is extended to 6 weeks
- the deadlines for registration and postponement notices fit with the extended joining window
- the extended deadline for passing worker contributions to a pension scheme applies to all new joiners (including contract joiners)
- the opt out notice provisions make clear that schemes can customise notices
- there is greater clarity and consistency concerning the requirements for defined benefit test schemes in relation to the appropriate age, service limits and revaluation that apply in those schemes

The majority of these changes will be implemented as of 1 November 2013 with those on the joining window and registration deadlines coming into force from 1 April 2014.

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