Employers what now?
Once the scheme has been established and the employees enrolled, the employer duties don’t stop there – scheme administration requires on-going maintenance to keep it ticking over.
Ongoing employer duties
Automatic enrolment is, as explained by The Pension Regulator (TPR), a continuous responsibility. An employer’s duties do not end after their start date.
TPR website provides detailed guidance for employers in relation to their initial and continuing duties under auto enrolment. There are a series of publications available providing guidance to employers to help them understand these duties.
Further information relating to employers’ ongoing duties can be also accessed on the TPR website.
If you are not using qualifying earnings then you will need to self-certify that the scheme meets the certification criteria. The certificate must be in place within one month of the staging date and must be renewed every eighteen months. It is not necessary to send the certificate to The Pension Regulator but it must be signed, dated and kept in case the regulator should ever ask to see it. The certificate and any data/evidence relating to it must be retained for six years after the end of the certification period.
The Department of Work and Pensions has produced guidance for employers on the process of certification which includes a template of the certificate.
TPR also provide further information in publication 4 ‘detailed guidance for employers’ on page 22.
Completion of the self-certification certificate is your responsibility and we would urge all participating employers to diarise the eighteen month renewal.
The Pension Regulator also provides easy-reference tables of the records the legislation requires an employer to keep in publication 9 of the Detailed guidance for employers series, Keeping records: Records that must be kept by law under the new employer duties.
Monitor and Review
Finally, all employers should look to the United States where lawsuits have been brought in relation to the fiduciary duty of care in selection of and oversight of the master trust of their choice and that it continues to meet the needs of their employees.
A debate in the House of Commons on 9th February 2017 has already considered introducing a new clause to the Pensions Bill, New Clause 7, requiring employers to conduct basic checks before signing up to a Master Trust scheme. During the debate, Alex Cunningham, made reference to the US lawsuits and the possibility that if a company fails in its fiduciary obligations litigation may be an option. However, it was felt that as long as an employer chose a qualifying scheme, that met the regulator's criteria, they would have done their duty and the clause was withdrawn.
Our view is that often the past is judged by the standards of today and it would not be unrealistic for future politicians to decide that, in hindsight, an employer's duty of care should have extended to ongoing monitoring and review of their chosen scheme.
We encourage our participating employers to continue to monitor the performance of The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust and that it continues to meet the needs of their employees. We encourage feedback from employers and members, both good and bad, to help us improve the services we provide.
TLWPT Team will be happy to assist you should you have any queries relating to your participation in the scheme and your employer duties.