FirstGroup tests auto-enrolment hub

EXCLUSIVE: FirstGroup is finalising user-acceptance testing on its auto-enrolment hub, which will be rolled out for its staging date of April 2013.

The hub, which will be provided by reward and pension communications firm Penkom, will sit between the transport organisation’s pension provision, payroll system and communication processes.

John Chilman, group reward and pensions director at FirstGroup, said: “In our shortlisting process, we ended up going to software providers as opposed to employee benefits consultancies.

“The hub is going to be a very important and powerful tool, because it will enable us to have a single source of massive amounts of data, which will make things easier in terms of financial reporting and for our existing suppliers as well.

“For instance, for our current defined benefit (DB) scheme, we will be able to pass the data for 50-odd payrolls through the hub. There are some economies that we can drive out of this process.”

FirstGroup is currently running through all possible scenarios for its diverse workforce to ensure the process works.

Chilman added: “It will need a little bit of smartening up before we release it in earnest, but we don’t have anyone coming in until 1 April 2013, so we have got six months to do all those things. But, fundamentally, the processing works, it allocates them correctly, it communicates with employees, but we will need to tidy it up.”

In January 2013, when the hub is launched to employees, it will be integrated with the organisation’s current benefits portal. Staff will receive tailored communications to suit their own circumstances.

“From the employees’ point of view, it will be seamless,” said Chilman. “They will wake up in a couple of months’ time and see a view that says they will be auto-enrolled in three months. Communications will include generic stuff and tailored stuff, but hopefully it will all be ready before Christmas to make sure everything is up and running.”