Employers shift launch dates for auto-enrolment

A number of employers due to auto-enrol staff into pension schemes in early 2013 have moved their compliance date to make cost savings or to coincide with other crucial business dates.

The Co-operative Group’s auto-enrolment staging date was 1 November 2012, but it built in the legal three-month postponement period so the first pension contributions come out of employees’ pay in February 2013.

Paul Macro, head of defined contribution (DC) at Mercer, said this was a common approach for many retailers because of the busy Christmas season. He added: “The end of the year was important for them and they didn’t want to be distracted by pensions.”

Other employers with staging dates in late 2012 and early 2013 have postponed these to save on contributions. Macro added: “They are large organisations, with tens of thousands of people to be autoenrolled, which is expensive. If you can save two or three months of contributions, you will do that.”

Dennis Publishing (pictured) is considering postponing its staging date by three months, from January 2014 to April 2014, to align it with its flexible benefits enrolment window.

Fellow publisher Informa is doing the reverse, moving its launch date forward from July to January 2013 to match its flex window for salary sacrifice deductions.

The Pensions Regulator’s Postponement: An explanation of how to apply postponement, published last August, states the deferral period is a good time to bring in a salary sacrifice arrangement, so employers and staff can get used to it before auto-enrolment.

Mark Groom, tax partner at Deloitte, said: “If you have a lot of people to put into a pension for the first time, one way to mitigate the cost is salary sacrifice, because some of that money will come back through national insurance savings.”