The EU reform agenda – What is Labour’s?

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Over the past 18 months since David Cameron first outlined his broad vision for renegotiating the UK’s place in a reformed European Union, discussion over how this might play out has occupied much of the debate surrounding the Conservatives’ future Europe policy orientation. Protecting the interests of countries outside the Eurozone, “repatriation of powers” and freedom of movement are just some of the issues that have been thrown into the mix.

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Simon Walker on the Annual Convention: 1950-2014

Simon Walker

The Annual Convention is a place for ideas. You’d expect nothing less from an event, now in its 64th year, where over 2,000 business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians meet to set the business agenda for the year ahead.

And this year’s theme, ‘game changers’, fits right into the legacy of the Convention. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, arguing that we’re still “in the very beginnings of the internet” may feel a far cry from Earl Mountbatten of Burma urging his audience “to be ready everywhere, all the time” back in 1959. But preparing for the future and anticipating tomorrow’s challenges have always been cornerstones of the Convention’s philosophy. Read More »

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Celebrating Game Changers

IoD Annual Convention
Allister Heath, the deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, recently gave a rather gloomy analysis of the UK’s prospects. “Britain’s problem,” he said, “is that our economy and society aren’t sufficiently dynamic. We are not adapting fast enough, with dire consequences for our productivity.”

At the IoD we are more positive about the ability of Britain’s business community to innovate, creating new products and services, and boosting competition for consumers. But Heath is right that a healthy economy requires permanent revolution, with creative companies constantly disrupting markets and developing new technologies.

That’s why at this year’s IoD Annual Convention we have decided to celebrate the game changers who are reshaping the way we live, in areas ranging from transport to media, communications, entertainment and even currency. Read More »

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Setting personal development goals as a director

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I am always short of time. If my business is booming, it is spent looking after customers, staff and suppliers to make sure we do a good job. If business is quiet, I am trying to win work … and get back to position one.

In business we always set ourselves goals, whether it be to increase profits, launch a new product or service, or start exporting. The biggest challenge I faced in the last couple of years was to actually practice what I preached. When giving staff appraisals I always want them to have additional training or qualifications as part of their personal development plan. But what about me?

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The vision that is Jaguar

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What looked like a terminal decline in British car manufacturing started in the 1970s. Some may blame the trade unions, and some poor management. Either way, many wrote off the automotive industry in the UK for good.

But the industry has quietly and very powerfully come back, as I discovered on a recent tour of the £500 million new Jaguar Land Rover engine factory in Wolverhampton – the first Jaguar engine factory to be built in a generation.

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Auto Enrolment “opt outs” – Are you being fair to all concerned?

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Caroline Castle, from Torquil Clark, provides monthly guidance on auto enrolment topics that employers should pay particular attention to.

Since auto enrolment was launched in October 2012 there has been the right for employees to “opt out” of the system. This is because they have been enrolled as pension scheme members through legislation rather than personal choice. Whilst the actual numbers of employees following this route has been far lower than the industry anticipated, there have still been a few who have decided their employer’s plan is not right for them, and who want to unravel the whole process and receive a refund of contributions.

The guidelines surrounding auto enrolment dictate that this can only be a successful process if it is completed in a timely manner, namely within 30 days. But within 30 days of what? Is it 30 days of the assessment, the issue of the member pack, or the receipt of the data by the insurer? Herein lies the confusion. Pension providers are not uniform in the process they require for an employer to achieve a successful “opt out”. However, one criteria is universal – “opt out” cannot be achieved through contact with the employer alone. Any employer encouraging this would be deemed in breach of auto enrolment legislation. The pension provider has to be the first point of contact and it is they that must instigate the “opt out” process following contact from an employee.

Let us consider how this would be achieved in practice. The employer assesses their workforce, determines who is to be auto enrolled, deducts the appropriate contribution from their employee and communicates this to them. This same communication also has to inform them of their right to “opt out”, but also that any such request needs to be directed through their pension provider.

With so much on offer by way of auto enrolment support from payroll providers or third party administrators, enrolment can take place without the pension provider knowing anything about these actual employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to input the details of the auto enrollees onto the pension provider’s system. This will ensure that their communications can be dispatched without too much delay. It is these communications which inform employees of their personal details for the scheme, such as their plan number; details which are frequently required to “opt out”. As the pension provider has to rely on the employer themselves uploading details of the auto enrolled employees, they are dependent on this information being provided before they can support any “opt outs”.

Historically employers have only had to submit this information and their contributions to the pension provider by the 19th of the month, following deduction. The same ruling still applies, but if an employer runs with these same timeframes after staging, as prior to their auto enrolment, even monthly paid employees could well see two contributions deducted before they can “opt out” and receive a refund.

Some pension providers have got round the issue by ensuring the employer informs employees of the scheme number at the point of auto enrolment. This will allow employees to contact them with this and their National Insurance Number and this contact alone ensures an “opt out” notice can be issued. The pension provider then only requires contributions to be submitted the following month for those employees who are happy to remain as members of the scheme when a double contribution will be passed across.

However how does this affect the vast majority of auto enrolled employees who do want to remain as pension scheme members and require the greatest return possible from their investment? Potentially they could be disadvantaged and lose out on a month’s growth on their contribution whilst it sits in their employer’s pension account waiting for the “opt out” period to elapse.

With pension providers free to establish their own method of resolving the “opt out” issue, this could well be a factor for employers to consider in their selection of pension provider. As a general point it does mean that all employers will have to adopt a much prompter process in ensuring their pension provider receives personal data for all employees, even if they can still delay the submission of the contributions to later in the month. If the two parts of the process have to be managed simultaneously, delay of payment until the 19th of the following month could well be unacceptable and they will need to budget in order to pass these across within a shorter timeframe.

Auto enrolment was never going to be easy, but managing the “opt out” facility, to be fair to all, adds a further complexity which may not have been envisaged. Pension advice will ensure you are not only aware of these potential issues but also understand them sufficiently to make an informed decision on the process to deliver what is best for you and your employees.

To find out more about Auto Enrolment, visit www.iod.com/autoenrol or call 01902 576707.

Consultancy charges apply. Torquil Clark Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Not all Auto Enrolment services are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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