Helen Duncan: Middleware is key to auto-enrolment technology

Choosing the right middleware is a crucial factor when employers are putting together the technology to handle auto-enrolment


  • Orbit is 100% automated and manages the entire auto-enrolment process.
  • The system provides employees with access to an auto-enrolment helpdesk, including a telephone helpline.
  • Orbit stores all auto-enrolment activity for audit purposes.

The cornerstone of any successful benefits solution is always expert consultancy, and technology should allow that consultancy to be put into practice. With this in mind, Capita Employee Benefits’ portal, Orbit, has been designed to meet the needs of employers, employees and trustees through the auto-enrolment process.

Given the amount of administration and data requirements around auto-enrolment, a technology-driven solution is vital to help organisations fulfil their new employer duties.

The term used to describe this technology is ‘middleware’, a link that sits between an employer’s HR and payroll systems and its pension scheme provider.

The level of sophistication and development required to handle, assess and process such a complex subject means that middleware is out of reach for the vast majority of employers, if they are considering implementing an in-house solution.

Help is out there, but the middleware systems available are not all the same, and levels of sophistication vary. Some will handle a number of actions, while others will take care of them all; some are fully automated, while others require administrative intervention to trigger key events. This is where Capita’s technology comes to the fore.

Of course, for any middleware to operate effectively, data is key. Capita’s consultancy work includes an assessment of an employer’s HR and payroll systems, including detailed data. Once this work is complete and the design set to an organisation’s requirements, Orbit will: communicate with the employer’s HR and payroll systems and pension provider’s systems and implement secure data feeds; categorise employees; assess qualifying earnings to determine which employees are eligible jobholders, because Orbit will be pre-programmed with the scheme’s rules; set any postponement that is built into the design; automatically send statutory notifications to pension scheme members as and when required; record actions taken by employees (such as opting in early) and communicate these back to the employer’s payroll for the appropriate deductions; and trigger auto enrolment after any postponement period, communicating this back to the employer to ensure deductions are made from payroll.

Audit trail

Orbit will also store all activity for audit purposes, which is required for registration with The Pensions Regulator. The vast amount of management information provided ensures tight governance.

Finally, employees are provided with access to an auto-enrolment helpdesk, including a telephone helpline where, for example, opt-ins and opt-outs can be processed by phone. All of this process is 100% automated; Orbit will handle every action and duty that is required of employers.

Also incorporated is a Trustee Zone, which allows pension scheme trustees to track and manage their responsibilities in a single, secure environment, helping them to manage their functions more effectively.

After implementing Orbit, there is minimal ongoing administration for employers to worry about, which means that they can focus on their day job knowing that their auto-enrolment arrangements are being managed efficiently and appropriately and in accordance with the regulations.

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Helen Duncan is head of employer duties at Capita Employee Benefits

This whitepaper has been written by Capita Employee Benefits