Mayer Brown comments on the Government's pensions consultation on auto enrolment and qualifying schemes
24 September 2009
24 September 2009 - The Department for Work and Pensions today issued a consultation document covering the regulatory framework for auto enrolment and qualifying schemes.
There are some revisions to the March 2009 consultation document, that was criticised for being over technical, and a raft of new regulation and consultation relating to other employer duties and compliance.
The consultation document sets out how the Government intends to phase in the requirements to auto enrol from October 2012. This will be carried out over three years starting first with the larger employers and ending with the smaller employers, over 25 to 30 tranches. The so-called "staging date", on which the requirements first apply, is important - as this is the date following which the triennial requirement for re-enrolment is to apply. Those employers that wish to do so can bring forward the staging date, which may be useful for their administration.
Detail is provided on the ability of schemes to certify that they meet the qualifying standards and the registration process.
It does look like the Government has taken on board some of the concerns regarding the operation of auto enrolment, but not others. For example, the joining window has been extended from 14 days to a month, and the timescales for deducting member contributions and paying refunds have been relaxed, but the opt-out process remains particularly rigid.
Anna Rogers, head of the Pensions Group at Mayer Brown in London, said: "The Government has taken on board some of the concerns about the enrolment process, but opt-out is still too rigid. Now the framework is taking shape, it's time for employers to increase their focus on how they will comply with the new regime".
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