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Don’t over-egg the AE challenge employers says NEST

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Recent reports suggests that many small and micro employers haven’t got to grips with staging dates or chosen their pension provider yet. However NEST research shows that awareness of auto enrolment is high. Getting to grips with auto enrolment may be easier than they think.

New NEST research, conducted online by YouGov*, has found that only 10 per cent of small and micro employers don’t know anything auto enrolment. This indicates employers know auto enrolment is coming, even though the staging profile shows that many won’t begin staging for another 12 to 18 months. NEST also found**, consistent with other organisations, that around 9 out of 10 (87 percent) haven’t chosen their pension provider and around half (48 per cent) aren’t certain of when they need to meet the new pension legislation, known as their staging date. However, NEST has today published 5 reasons why auto enrolment may be easier than they think.

Only the minority aren’t aware of auto enrolment (10 percent) and we know, from NEST insight, that small and micro employers also say they agree with the policy of providing a pension for their workers.  Knowing that auto enrolment is coming is half the battle, meaning they can start planning how to deliver it in good time. If employers don’t know their staging date, it’s easy to solve. They can find out in just a few clicks from The Pension Regulator’s website. Employers can even log in from their mobile. They just need to know their PAYE reference number.

Around 9 in 10 don’t know which pension provider they’ll use but there’s a quality provider that is open for all. Employers who haven’t chosen a scheme can be confident that with NEST they will always have a quality scheme open to them. NEST was set up by government for auto enrolment, so employers can be confident it meets government requirements. It has been designed specifically to meet the needs of employers and puts members at the heart of its investment approach. NEST is already working with over 23,000 employers and has over 2 million members. It’s ready to accept any employer that wants to use it.

Auto enrolment started in October 2012. That’s almost three years ago and in that time the pension industry has been learning from the experiences of employers, members and intermediaries to date. That means we understand their needs and have evolved our systems to meet them. As well as learning, we have all been building. There have been a number of new technological advances with auto enrolment that make the process easier. At NEST, employers can use tools like NEST Connect to hand over the admin of their scheme to an intermediary. If they want to manage auto enrolment in-house, our new web services functionality (going live later this year) means employers can choose to do auto enrolment admin through payroll software. And of course they can also just sign up on our website.

Helen Dean, executive director of product and marketing at NEST, says:‘With the numbers of employers due to stage, there’s no doubt that auto enrolment is about to get more challenging but employers may find it easier than they think. It’s great to see that small employers know about auto enrolment and that they want to provide a pension for their workers. Although they may not have got down to the details of auto enrolment, that’s easy to change. If they don’t know their staging date, they can find out in a few clicks from The Pension Regulator’s website. If they haven’t chosen a pension provider, they know that they can always get access to a quality scheme through NEST. We need to remember that over 5 million workers are now enrolled, tens of thousands of employers have managed their duties and if anything, with technology advances and learning along the way, auto enrolment is getting easier for everyone. This is great news for the millions of small and micro employers staging over the next few years. ‘They can use tools like NEST Connect to hand over to an intermediary, sign up direct via our website or take advantage of our new web services functionality which will integrate with payroll later in the year. Although managing auto enrolment in-house doesn’t have to be difficult, advances in technology mean that employers can choose what works for them and even handover the whole project if they choose.’

* Figuresfrom YouGov Plc – total sample size was 520 small business decision makers (excluding sole traders). Fieldwork was undertaken between 7 – 10 July 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.

** All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Research Now. Research Now conducted an online survey with 1,000 employers yet to stage. The survey ran between the 12th June and 26th June 2015. Results are weighted to ensure they reflect the small and micro employer population.

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