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Auto enrolment quick cheat guide?

Do you remember in the 1980s you could buy books that would help you learn how to do the Rubik’s Cube? Some people read them and studied it until they could complete the puzzle in seconds. Some could even do it behind their backs.

But very few people reached this level of mastery.

The puzzle was of course very simple; just get all sides showing only one colour each. In practice, it was very puzzling as there were 43 quintillion combinations. Most people gave up, pulled it apart, peeled the stickers off, or had a nervous breakdown trying to crack it. Those that remained seem to have joined an online society of addicts.

Around half a billion people have tried it, one way or another.

Auto-enrolment is also a very simple puzzle; set up a pension scheme and put employees in. So here’s my ‘quick cheat guide’ for auto-enrolment…

Step 1

Quickly check you understand the rules. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. Just look up ‘automatic enrolment’ online and check through the 910,000 pages of information.

Step 2

Briefly map out the process of assessing your workforce to see who you need to put in the scheme. A post-it note should do. Here’s an example we prepared for a typical employer.

Step 3

Set up a regular interface to upload your payroll data to the provider to ensure everything works smoothly. Experience shows that the chances of having all the right data in a workable format from payroll are very slim, but you might be lucky and find that by pure co-incidence, it all matches up just fine.

And that’s you done.

I’m not trying to scare employers, and in fact, both the DWP and tPR have produced a number of excellent employer guides to help them through the process. But I am suggesting that, even with these guides, employers are unlikely to master auto-enrolment overnight. They will need help. I’ve already heard more than one story about an employer refusing help, getting it wrong, being fined, then paying more for the help they refused in the first place. That’s not a winning formula.

The success of auto-enrolment in 2014 depends upon us; providers, advisers and regulators getting this message out.

The Rubik’s Cube was just for Christmas. Auto-enrolment isn’t.

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