Shepherd Neame to bring forward auto-enrolment staging date

EXCLUSIVE: Shepherd Neame is to bring its staging date forward by three months and amend its trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension scheme to comply with its auto-enrolment duties.

The brewer, which is working with BBS Consultants and Actuaries, elected to bring its staging date forward to 1 July from 1 September 2013, to align this with other key dates in its financial year.

It has a diverse workforce of highly transient workers, with around 1,200 employees in the UK, around 75% of who are not members of a workplace pension scheme.

The brewer currently operates three defined contribution (DC) pension schemes for staff. The schemes, which include a trust-based scheme, a group personal pension (GPP) plan and a stakeholder scheme, are for different segments of its workforce.

Its trust-based pension, which will have different sections for different segments of the workforce, will include a bespoke default fund, as well as other new investment options to ensure an appropriate range is available to members.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of the brewer, said: “Prior to starting our preparations for auto-enrolment with BBS, we had three pension schemes in place.

‚ÄúWe are now in the process of moving all members into one scheme, with different sections, which will be our sole workplace pension arrangement going forward.‚ÄĚ

In May, Shepherd Neame started communicating with employees through presentations. Leading up to 1 July, it will send out personalised letters to all staff, frequently-asked questions (FAQs) on auto-enrolment and investment, as well as bespoke forms for employees to select their investment options.

Neame added: ‚ÄúBBS will be handling all auto-enrolment administration on our behalf, so all we need to do is tell it about new joiners and leavers, and send it our pay data after each payroll.‚ÄĚ

Paul McArdle, auto-enrolment manager at BBS Consultants and Actuaries, added: “It was imperative that the introduction of auto-enrolment at Shepherd Neame did not have any negative impact on its existing HR and payroll processes.

‚ÄúWe worked closely with the brewer to undertake a number of carefully considered exercises to ensure both the organisation¬†and its workforce are fully prepared.‚ÄĚ