If you’re looking at your auto enrolment staging date with panic and horror, fear not, help is readily at hand.
Getting auto enrolment right and making sure you meet your obligations is as much about being organised as it is knowing anything about pensions! One of the key pieces in the auto enrolment puzzle is getting your data ready and it’s never too soon to make sure you have your data sorted. In this article, we will help you with that task.
Our Top 10 Auto Enrolment Tips For Getting Your Data Ready
- Appoint an auto enrolment champion. Like anything that’s completely new, it’s always best to have someone in your business who knows more than the rest. Depending on the size of your business, your auto enrolment champion might be a team of people deployed solely for the task for a fixed period of time or someone doing it as part of their main role. It really doesn’t matter which you choose as long as the person you choose appreciates the importance of the task as well as having the time allocated to them to carry out their responsibilities with the rigour they require.
- Create your ‘data readiness’ strategy. Your data will need to be ready ahead of the time your staging date comes around and this won’t happen by magic. Making sure you know what your data requirements are and how you’re going to obtain the data, manage the data compliantly and update the data are all key to successfully meeting your obligations. You will find the majority of the data you require for auto enrolment in your payroll data, but not all, so you need to be clear about what other data is required and how you’re going to collect and store it.
- Know what a completed data set looks like. It’s worth bearing in mind that a reasonable timeframe for collecting the data you need for auto enrolment is anywhere between 6 and 9 months. Add to this the fact that it is advisable to carry out a ‘dummy run’, ideally around 3 months before your staging date and you begin to see why this certainly isn’t a task you should leave until the last minute. Not being ready on time could have a severe financial impact on your business, so it really does pay to plan ahead. A completed data set will include a range of fields such as: employee ID, name, NI number, gender, address, salary, pay period, qualifying earnings, pension group, employee status, date of birth, joining date, leaving date, email address and whether or not they work in the UK and more.
- Choose your media carefully. When you come to record the data, it’s essential that you choose your media with care. It could be that a simple Excel spreadsheet will do the job for you or a CSV file, but either way, you need to make sure that whatever media you choose streamlines with your pension provider’s requirements as well as your payroll to avoid double effort and increased risk of error. You also need to respect Data Protection rules with any new media choice.
- Embrace technology. It goes without saying, but when it comes to making life easy for auto enrolment, making the right technology choice plays a major part. Before making your final choice, make sure you have explored all the options on offer from your payroll and pensions providers. The ideal is that one or other will help make life as simple as possible for you. Suffice to say, that whatever technology you choose to use, you need to make sure it has been rigorously tested and won’t let you down.
- Make accuracy and completeness your mantra. Getting your data ready for auto enrolment is a major task, there’s no getting away from that and it’s foolhardy not to invest the time and effort you need to. Like most things of this nature, small savings here and there can end up in significant costs that you don’t foresee coming, so make accuracy and completeness your goal from the start. That way you shouldn’t go far wrong.
- Fill in the data gaps at the first opportunity. Making sure you have all the data you need for each of your employees as soon as possible is the ideal. That way you can make sure that the records you have are up to date, stored correctly and ready to process when the time comes.
- Be aware of deadlines – and meet them. As we’ve already mentioned, in the ideal world, you’ll start preparing for your staging date at least a year ahead of time. If it’s already too late to meet that recommendation, today’s the day to make sure you get started. The sooner you start on your data readiness project, the smoother your auto enrolment process will be. You needn’t go it alone – simply make sure you have the process in hand when you should.
- Test your data readiness. When your staging date is looming, testing your data for readiness is essential. Your pension company, IFA or auto enrolment software solution will have specific data requirements and you need to be aware of these, have everything prepared and ready and test well ahead of time.
- Keep your data up to date. Your data needs to be submitted every payroll period and because of this, keeping your data up to date is paramount in making sure your auto enrolment obligations are met. No matter whether you choose a manual updating system or some form of middleware, you need to have a plan of action for collecting updates, recording updates and storing them…forever!
Auto enrolment needn’t be a huge burden. And being aware of your obligations and having a plan in place for how you’re going to meet them is the best way to stay ahead of the game. Check out our Survival Guide or our ‘Do It For You’ service.
If you’d like help to prepare for auto enrolment, why not get in touch? We have teams of workplace pensions experts on hand ready to help business owners like you take a stress free journey through auto enrolment.