In previous editions of our pensions publications we have referred to the Government's intentions to modify the auto enrolment regime, particularly because of some of the difficulties that have been encountered as the system has been rolled out since October 2012 and also to help lighten the compliance burden on smaller employers which are now reaching their staging dates. Regulations came into effect from 1 April 2015 and provide for:
- a new alternative standard which defined benefit pension schemes which are to be used for auto enrolment purposes must satisfy, which is based on the cost of accruals. This is mainly to provide an alternative for those schemes which currently satisfy a standard based on contracting out requirements which will cease from 1 April 2016 with the introduction of the single state pension;
- reduced complexity in the communications which an employer has to provide to workers as part of the auto enrolment process; and
- exemptions in certain areas, so employers do not, for instance, have to auto enrol a jobholder who the employer has reasonable grounds to believe has claimed protection from the lifetime allowance charge, or employees who are, broadly, serving notice prior to leaving employment.
These easements will remove certain burdens, in particular in dealing with employees with protections, for whom auto enrolment has been a particular problem. However, the rules remain complex and care still needs to be taken to properly comply with the auto enrolment provisions on an ongoing basis.