Right, so you’ve reached your Staging Date. Assuming you haven’t used Postponement (if you have, these steps apply when you reach your postponement deferral date), there are now a number of things you must take care of. You will need to:
Formally assess your employees.
This is the point at which you officially define a worker in the context of auto enrolment. Generally speaking, this is done between your staging date and your first auto enrolment payroll run. It can be done manually, with the help of a third party AE specialist or through your payroll software (if it is capable) You may have provisionally assessed your work force using a contributions calculator (see Step 2), however it is at this stage that you officially categorise your workforce and this is the information you have to submit to The Pensions Regulator and your pension provider. A description of the various categories of worker can be found here
If you are using payroll software, your provider will tell you how to do this as it should be part of the AE procedures in the software. The same thing will apply if your accountant or payroll bureau runs your payroll.
Enrol your employees in your payroll software
By now you should have set up your pension scheme details in your payroll software, but the individual employees actually have to be linked to that scheme. In many cases, you will only have one scheme but if your payroll software has the ability to specify the pension scheme for each employee this will allow for more than one scheme.
Send your employee details to your pension provider
Once your pension provider and scheme has been selected, you will need to tell this provider who your employees are. This can either be done manually or by uploading a file generated by your payroll software. They will also then carry out their own assessment as part of their procedures.
However, when you upload your employee details, your pension provider may take this as the fact that your pension scheme has actually started and so will start to expect contribution details to be sent to them and actual payments to be made.
Run your payroll with auto enrolment
This is it. The point at which AE actually begins.
If you use payroll software it should make the necessary calculations, show the deductions on the employeesâ€™ payslips and produce the necessary reports to be submitted to your pension provider and for your records. It will also have dealt with the tax relief in the way that is specified by your pension provider. If you are running your payroll manually, or through a third party payroll bureau, you will need to ensure that they are providing this information to the pension provider.
Upload your contribution file to your pension provider
Make sure that you upload the contribution file created by your payroll software, payroll bureau or that you have produced manually to your pension provider.
Process any opt-out notices received to that point
Employees can only ‘opt out’ within 30 days of being automatically enrolled (they can leave the scheme at any time, but this isn’t officially defined as ‘opting out’! More about this in Step 7 and read more here). However, this 30 day period does not automatically start at your staging date. It is usually 30 days from the date the employee receives their confirmation pack or they receive their letter confirming auto enrolment from you (whichever is the later). This is one of the points at which an Auto Enrolment professional can help you although the Pension Regulator can advise you.
Once you have your AE scheme up and running, it doesn’t end there I’m afraid. You have certain ongoing obligations that are covered in STEP 7. RUNNING YOUR AUTO ENROLMENT SCHEME