On 12 January, 11 sets of draft regulations relating to auto-enrolment and other aspects of the 2012 workplace pension reforms were published by the DWP. At the same time, the DWP issued its response to its September 2009 consultation on the draft legislation. It is worth noting, however, that many aspects of the proposed new regime may change should there be a change of government following the General Election.

More details on the original auto-enrolment proposals can be found on our microsite here. However, the draft legislation and consultation response make certain key changes to the plans:

  • As expected, the first employers to become subject to the auto-enrolment regime (broadly, the largest) will need to meet the new requirements from 1 October 2010. Auto-enrolment will be phased in from this point onwards on a month by month basis, with the smallest employers only becoming subject to the new regime by 1 September 2016.
  • The DWP has decided to withdraw draft regulations relating to the self-certification of defined contribution schemes and plans to issue revised proposals in due course.
  • In order to protect workers on a succession of short-term contracts from falling outside of the regime, the regulations provide that employers will not be able to postpone auto-enrolment for eligible job holders who have already been postponed in the preceding 12 months.
  • The reporting and record-keeping requirements have been simplified: the flat rate fixed penalty notice amount is reduced from £500 to £400 amidst concerns about the potential impact on small businesses.

It should also be noted that the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority has announced that the personal accounts scheme will be known as the "National Employment Savings Trust" ("NEST").