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SMEs hit by early AE staging dates can turn to advisers for solution

SME clients may be shocked to find their AE staging dates are as early as 1 June this year. But advisers can help them quickly get automated, says Chris Daems, principal of Cervello Financial Planning and co-creator of AE in a Box

There’s a general assumption in both the employers and accountants we speak to that if you employ between two and 50 employees, and especially if you’re closer to the former rather than the later, Auto Enrolment is something you can put to the bottom of your in-box and worry about in 2016 or 2017.

There’s also a preconception that the less people you employ the longer you can leave it until you worry about needing to comply.

However, these preconceptions whilst true previously (larger employers complied based on number of employers) are no longer the case.

The other day I found myself talking to an accountant, who had been referred by a fellow financial planner, to help him with the 200 employers he had to help comply with auto enrolment.

We’d been on the phone for a couple of minutes when he mentioned one of the most common preconceptions about auto enrolment…

“Actually Chris,” he said, “I don’t need to worry about auto enrolment yet. All my employers’ clients are small in nature, between two and 20 employees; so they won’t need to comply until late 2016/2017….will they?”

“Actually,” I said, “an employer’s staging date is now based on their PAYE reference number and not on the number of employees they have. Therefore, you could have employers within your client bank who are staging far sooner than they think!”

“Oh,” he said surprised. “So I need to look at this situation sooner rather than later?”

“Yep” I said “I’d suggest, as the SME staging dates start on 1 June 2015 that you take a look at this over the next few days.”

I share this story for one reason. My accountant friend is far from alone.

Across the UK hundreds of thousands of employers and the professionals who work with them, are assuming that auto enrolment doesn’t apply to them yet, due to their size. They are assuming that they don’t need to concern themselves until 2016 or 2017.

Whilst they might stage in 2016 or 2017 the reality is that that staging dates (the date on which an employer needs to have prepared to comply with auto enrolment regulation) are now based not on the number of employees but the PAYE reference.

This might mean that they comply in 2016 or 2017 but could also mean that they need to do something a lot sooner than that.

Luckily there’s a massively easy way to check an employer’s staging date. The pensions regulator has a great tool (you can find the link to it below) to confirm employers’ staging dates.

But finding out an employer’s staging date is just the first part of the process. Employers then need to comply with the regulatio

When it comes to this, and as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, they broadly have three options. They can consult with a professional, they can do everything themselves or they can use a system designed to give them the tasks they need to complete to the job. A system like AE in a Box.

The route employers, or the professionals they work with, choose is fundamentally up to them.

However, the first step is to find out the date on which you or your clients need to be ready. Just take the simple step of checking with the regulator so you can make the appropriate plans to comply.

For more information on helping employers and the professionals they work with comply with auto enrolment AE in a Box may be contacted on and 08450 568 959

Go to The Pensions Regulator’s staging date calculator




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