Help for small firms under pressure with pension auto-enrolment

10 March 2016

As tens of thousands of small business owners approach their ‘staging date’ for pensions auto-enrolment, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is assuring small business owners that help is at hand.

Changes to pension legislation mean that between now and 1 April 2017, more than a million small and micro businesses will be legally required to set-up and contribute to a workplace pension scheme for each of their employees aged over 22 years.  Those that fail to comply run the risk of being fined.  Self-employed individuals may also need to consider what pension provision they have in place, but FSB is concerned that this message is still not being effectively communicated to business owners, particularly sole traders and micro sized employers.

FSB research conducted earlier this year found that almost half of those small businesses without a workplace pension scheme are still unclear about what they need to do, when they need to do it, and how much it will cost them.  Three in four small business owners (76%) reported that auto-enrolment pensions put too much pressure on businesses like theirs.  One in four small businesses (26%) also did not know when their staging date was.

Neil Kendal, FSB West Yorkshire Chairman, said:

“Small firms do not usually have a HR department or an in-house pensions expert, and many business owners are struggling to get to grips with the legislation. Our latest research shows that while smaller firms generally believe that pension auto-enrolment will be good for their staff, many are still unclear about how to comply with it.  With just over a year to go before the staging deadline for all small employers, businesses need to plan ahead, seek advice, and ensure they are prepared for their auto-enrolment staging date.”

So far, of those FSB members who have already complied with their auto-enrolment duties, most said that their greatest challenge was understanding the rules and pinpointing exactly what they needed to do.  After this the main challenges reported by FSB members were selecting a qualifying pension scheme and upgrading their payroll systems.

Small businesses are invited to attend a lunchtime event on Wednesday 23 March where they can find out everything they need to know about pension auto-enrolment, including how to set-up a pension scheme and what to do if employees don’t want to participate.

The event, which takes place at 11.00am at The Kings Croft Hotel on Wakefield Road in Pontefract, is part of a series of events that FSB is holding to make small businesses aware of the changes in pension legislation.  Steve Venables from FSB Workplace Pensions is the Guest Speaker.  Apart from explaining what the changes to pensions legislation mean to small business owners, he will also be answering specific questions from attendees and providing advice on how to comply with the new regulations.  The event will conclude with lunch and informal networking.

Neil Kendall, said:

“Awareness of auto-enrolment has picked up, but many small businesses have yet to put plans into place to meet their duties. It is crucially important that small business owners deal with this sooner, and do not leave it until the last minute.  We are holding this event to give small business owners and self-employed individuals all the information they need on pension auto-enrolment and to provide them with invaluable advice on how to comply.”

FSB’s Pensions Auto-enrolment event is open to all small businesses and self-employed individuals.  Places at the event can either be booked on the FSB’s Eventbrite website or by emailing