Workforce analysis is key to auto-enrolment

Employers must consider the composition of their workforce when complying with auto-enrolment duties, particularly if employees are geographically dispersed or on multiple payrolls.

As the parent company of a range of smaller recruitment firms, Adecco will begin auto-enrolling staff on 1 March and will continue doing so at various stages until 2016. The organisation has 3,000 monthly-paid staff, who will all eventually be enrolled into a group personal pension (GPP) plan, while 20,000 weekly-paid staff will be enrolled into a multi-employer trust.

Sophia Singleton, principal consultant at Aon Hewitt, said: “I have seen that approach used by a number of organisations. The reason is being able to move between employers and the portability of the pension pot, but also so the employer doesn’t get stuck with a load of small pots left behind.”

Assessing the make-up of their workforce well in advance of auto-enrolment is a major issue for employers, particularly when they have multiple payrolls and pension arrangements. For example, Philip Smith, head of defined contribution (DC) at Buck Consultants, is working with an employer that has 27 payrolls, both weekly and monthly. “How do you get to grips with that?” he said. “Getting a workforce assessment and provider hub in place is absolutely critical.”

Using a single auto-enrolment portal is one way for employers to co-ordinate the roll-out of auto-enrolment across different employee groups. Whitbread has launched a dedicated pensions website as part of its auto-enrolment process to reach 40,000 staff working across brands such as Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Costa Coffee and Premier Inn. The website, which can be accessed externally or via Whitbread’s intranet, includes interfaces with the auto-enrolment assessment system.

The technology employers will require depends on the organisation’s structure. Singleton said: “I have seen some employers pulling everything into one hub, appointing a new payroll provider to bring all payrolls into one or appointing one pension provider going forward. Those that have complex or messy technology structures, [for example from] legacy organisations, have been trying to pull everything together.”

Adecco is using auto-enrolment as an opportunity to harmonise 18 pension plans, which include GPPs, a trust-based DC scheme and several legacy defined benefit (DB) plans.

Different employee groups must be assessed

  • When seeking to comply with auto-enrolment, employers must consider the needs of many different employee groups.
  • Managing the roll-out of auto-enrolment among a diverse workforce can be eased by a single, online benefits portal.
  • Employers should assess their workforce in advance, particularly if they have multiple payrolls and pension schemes.