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Pensions deadline looming

Shropshire employers are being urged to double check the deadline for auto-enrolling their staff in a workplace pension to avoid tough penalties.

Rich Morris (pictured) is the payroll department manager at Dyke Yaxley Chartered Accountants, in Shrewsbury and Telford, and he said more than half a million employers across the UK had completed the process by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

“This means 7.5 million workers are now saving for their retirement through a workplace pension since auto-enrolment began in 2012," he said.

“In addition, 136,000 small and micro employers fulfilled their duties for auto-enrolling employees by the end of March this year.

“But hundreds of thousands more employers are now due to follow suit over the coming months, and it’s vital that they act early so they do not leave themselves open to a fine.

“Employers should double check today that they know what they need to do, and when they need to do it – now is the time to ask for help if you need it.”

Mr Morris said the start date for auto-enrolment was set by The Pensions Regulator and was based on the size of a company’s payroll as of April 2012.

“All businesses will have reached their start date by February next year, so if you haven’t started the process yet, you don’t have long to comply.”

Auto-enrolment applies to any worker who earns more than £10,000 a year, who is aged between 22 and state pension age, and who normally works in the UK.

“If any of your employees meet the criteria, then as an employer it is your responsibility to select and set up a suitable pension scheme, and to evaluate the eligibility of staff at every pay period.

“You must add eligible workers to the selected pension scheme and make contributions, as well as keeping accurate and up-to-date records.”

Mr Morris said all employers currently needed to pay a minimum contribution of 1% of a worker’s qualifying earnings – a rate which is set until April 2018, and after that it will rise to 2% then 3% in April 2019.

“Don’t ignore the looming deadline for auto-enrolment – you can’t avoid it forever, and you don’t want to face the prospect of a substantial fine. Seek out some professional help and make sure you’re complying with all the rules.”

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