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Following a consultation exercise, the Government has announced changes to the automatic enrolment rules aimed at making it easier for employers to enrol their workers into a pension scheme.
Auto-enrolment is being introduced in gradual stages, with the date an employer must implement it – the ‘staging date’ – determined by the number of people in its PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012. Employers with 120,000 or more eligible workers have been subject to the requirement since 1 October 2012. From 1 November 2013 it applies to employers with 500 or more workers and by 1 July 2014, employers with 62 or more workers will be subject to the requirement. Automatic enrolment will have been extended to all employers by 2018.
Amendments to the regulations include:
- alternative definitions of pay reference periods for both assessing jobholder status and determining whether a scheme is a qualifying scheme;
- the automatic enrolment joining window is extended from one month to 6 weeks;
- the deadline for employers to provide information to individuals on their opt in and joining rights is extended to 6 weeks;
- the deadlines for registration and postponement notices fit with the extended joining window;
- the extended deadline for passing worker contributions to a pension scheme applies to all new joiners (including contract joiners)
- the opt out notice provisions make clear that schemes can customise notices;
- there is greater clarity and consistency concerning the requirements for defined benefit test schemes in relation to the appropriate age, service limits and revaluation that apply in those schemes;
Changes to the joining window and registration deadlines will apply from 1 April 2014. The rest of the amendments will come into force on 1 November 2013.