Preparing business for auto-enrolment

Workplace pensions for small companies are on their way – it’s time to start your journey, says Aviva

As a small business, you are passionate about what you do. You know your industry, your niche; you are an expert on current market conditions and what you need to do to get ahead of the competition. But how much do you know about one of the biggest events to impact UK businesses in many years – auto-enrolment of your staff into a workplace pension scheme?

The initiative is part of this and previous governments’ efforts to get people saving for their retirement. The largest UK companies have already been through the process, and the journey is now starting for small and medium-sized businesses. There is no opt-out clause for employers and the reality is that pensions will soon become part of your everyday corporate life.

Most companies have received their staging date from the Pensions Regulator and are preparing for the changes that will affect many aspects of their business. Payroll systems will have to be adapted to calculate and take accurate contributions; finance teams will have to add in the cost of the new benefits to forecasts and human resources will have to communicate the changes to staff.

Some companies may have separate teams for all these functions, while at smaller firms it may be all done by one person. Either way, it may seem daunting, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

Aviva has helped more than 1,600 UK companies so far to hit their staging dates on time and ready for the challenge ahead. Across the country almost five million people have already been signed up to a workplace pension in the two years since the initiative started. Some firms found aspects of the auto-enrolment difficult, despite having substantial internal teams focused on the process, so we know it is unlikely to be an easy task for smaller companies.

Aviva is one of the UK’s largest insurers and we have been looking after employee benefits since 1894 when we set up our first occupational pension scheme for the UK Commercial Travellers’ Association. Over the past 120 years, we have learnt the complexities of running companies ranging from the very largest to the very smallest – and how we can help them.

We realise everyone’s needs are different and we know your time is precious. This is why we have created a range of tools to help you figure out what you need to do – and when – to help your business comply with the new auto-enrolment rules. Hitting the deadline with the correct fixtures in place will not only set you up for a smooth run for your staff, it means you are more likely to avoid a fine and potential legal action from the regulator.

Auto-enrolment may be the first experience you have had with providing workplace pensions and at Aviva we realise it can seem overwhelming. Additionally, the number of people offering to show you the ropes may well be overpowering.

As one of the largest pension providers in the UK, we are very well placed to guide you through the steps to bring your company online, with specialists who can work with your human resources, accounting and finance, and payroll systems or help put new ones in place.

On our website, you will find a free interactive planning tool, our Auto-Enrolment Planner, to help you get your business ready for auto-enrolment. This tool will give you an idea of how prepared you already are to hit your staging date and what is left to do. It also gives information to help you complete each step of the process without obliging you to sign up to any of our products.

It is essential to pick the right partner as you start on the road to auto-enrolment and it is equally important to start early on the journey

Simply input your company details, the progress you have already made towards auto-enrolment and the website will show what is left to do. It will give you an idea of the timescale involved and if you are behind or ahead of schedule. The information is laid out in plain language as our experts have taken out regulatory jargon to clarify what you need to do.

If you do decide to work with Aviva on providing a pension for your staff, we will offer you a long-term relationship and support after the initial staging process is complete. Our Auto-Enrolment Manager for Employers (AME) helps businesses monitor costs, keep payroll information up to date and ensure records are compliant with the Pensions Regulator’s rules.

Auto-enrolment is just the first step towards retirement-savings provision and working with Aviva can help you provide great benefits to your staff.

Across the Aviva range we can offer options, such as healthcare cover and death-in-service packages, to supplement the basic options for your business. Although pensions are probably your initial priority, at Aviva we strive to work with our clients to create long-term partnerships that flex to deliver what they need as their businesses grow.

It is essential to pick the right partner as you start on the road to auto-enrolment and it is equally important to start early on the journey.

However, if you find yourself behind in your planning, don’t panic. Unless you have passed your staging date, there is still time to determine what you need to do and work with the regulator to find a solution.

Aviva is now offering free telephone consultations to businesses that are going through auto-enrolment in 2015. For more information about this offer or to learn more about our auto-enrolment solutions, visit www.aviva.co.uk/auto-enrol-support or call us on 0800 302 9507 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

Aviva Life Services UK Limited. Registered in England No 2403746. 2 Rougier Street, York, YO90 1UU.

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm reference no 145452.

aviva.co.uk