Bar owners urged to get a head start on pensions

Coin ChartThe Pensions Regulator warns that preparations to automatically enrol staff into a work-based pension scheme should not be left to the last minute

Owners of bars, pubs and clubs are being urged to find out when their automatic enrolment duties start – and circle the date in their calendars.

Under changes to pensions laws, all employers across the UK have a duty to automatically enrol certain staff into a work-based pension scheme. Already, more than 5,000 larger employers have enrolled nearly three million workers.

Soon, employers with fewer than 30 staff will need to do the same for their workers. While most small businesses do not have to automatically enrol their workers until after June 2015, The Pensions Regulator has warned that planning for this can take some months. For those with limited pensions experience or a lack of in-house know how, it makes sense to start planning early.

Find out your staging date

Firstly, all employers should check their “staging date”. An employer’s staging date is set in law and it is when their duty to automatically enrol eligible workers is switched on. Employers should ensure they make a note of the date and decide when they will need to take action.

Decide if you need outside help

Once employers have determined their staging date, they should then consider if they need outside help. If they do decide to seek assistance, they will need to leave plenty of time to get this in place. With potentially thousands of employers seeking help, it is sensible to avoid a rush and make approaches in good time.

Employers should ensure their chosen professional, whether it be an independent financial adviser, accountant or book keeper, is offering the help they need to meet their automatic enrolment duties. The message is the same when seeking pension scheme and software providers. Approaching both providers and advisers well in advance of their staging date will maximise employer choice and ensure their services will best meet the needs of the workforce. The regulator recommends employers should have providers in place at least 6 months in advance.

Make sure information you hold about your workers is correct

Implementing automatic enrolment includes assessing workers for eligibility and notifying them of the automatic enrolment regime. Before beginning these tasks, employers will need to ensure that they have all the correct details for their workers. Having this information to hand when starting automatic enrolment preparations will make the task easier and smoother.

Note when your duties begin and decide when to start planning

The Pensions Regulator’s executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell says: “We have been urging medium employers to act now because the clock is ticking – many of them have just months to go before their automatic enrolment duties are switched on.

“While small employers have longer to go, we are also urging them to act now as well. We do not want to see employers risking non compliance which can come at a cost.

“Employers with fewer workers will in some ways have less to do, but many of them will not be familiar with pensions and will need more time to do their research and make their arrangements.

“I would urge small employers to begin thinking about it now and take one step at a time. Their first step should be to find their staging date, circle it on their calendars and make a start on their plans.”


Employers should remember that their staging date is not based on their current headcount, but on the number of persons in their largest PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012. Those employers who had less than 30 workers, according to the data held by the Regulator from HMRC on this date, will begin staging in the summer of 2015. To find out their staging date, employers must visit the staging date tool on the regulator’s website at

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