Keeping your employees up to date with how automatic enrolment will affect them can seem overwhelming at first, but if you plan your communication strategy properly, it needn’t be too challenging.
As an employer you are required by law to explain to all of your employees how auto enrolment will affect them. Like most things in business, in order to do this effectively, you need to organised so that you provide the right information, at the right time to the right people.
It will be important that you, the employer, put a team in place that will communicate changes brought about by pensions auto enrolment to your employees.
On this page of our website, you’ll find an outline of the broad auto enrolment employee communication requirements you need to respect. We will also give you guidance about your obligations effectively, as well as providing some links that will take you to a range of valuable resources.
Here’s what we recommend you do:
- Make someone (or a team) responsible. Even in the smallest of businesses it is essential that someone takes responsibility to make sure your employee communication obligations are met. It is essential that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your pension provider will provide all the communication you need, because employee communication is your responsibility and it’s in your interest to get it right. And the best way to get it right is to create a communication team or appoint someone who is responsible.
- Understand the timescales. You must tell your staff about the effect auto enrolment will have on them within six weeks of it coming into effect in your workplace. This means that you need to inform your staff in writing that you have assessed them for automatic enrolment, how you did it and what it means for them.
- Know who you need to communicate with. No matter how big or small your company, and even if you already have an existing workplace pensions, you will need to take some action as a result of automatic enrolment. At a very basic level you will need to identify if and when automatic enrolment applies to each one of your workers; part or full time. Where you have staff to enrol, you need to make sure you have a suitable qualifying pension scheme. You then need to enrol qualifying employees into the pension scheme and make contributions. Depending on whether they are assessed as needing to be automatically enrolled, or they simply have a right to opt in or join a pension scheme, each member of staff will need to be sent specific information. Even if a member of staff is unaffected by the changes, for example if they are already members of an existing qualifying workplace pension scheme, they must still be informed in writing about what is happening. It is essential that you respect these requirements.
- Know what you need to communicate. Your auto enrolment employee communication plan will vary depending on how many of your employees will be affected and the state of your existing pension scheme. You will need to make sure the information for employees is communicated clearly and is well-defined so as to cause minimum confusion. Different groups of employees will need to be sent different information so it is appropriate to them. When segmenting your workforce, it would be a good idea to plan for on-going requirements for job holders, opt outs, new starters and leavers.
- Provide information in writing and electronically. A further consideration you will need to make about employee communication is how it will be distributed. If you have a high number of employees, you may well decide to outsource the distribution of your communication, but either way, in order to meet your statutory duty, all staff must be given information explaining how they are affected by automatic enrolment. Employee communications must be in writing and aimed personally at the employee. It can be a letter, an email, a memo or a PDF document BUT it is not acceptable to simply ask the employee to visit an internet or intranet site, to give them a link to a URL or display a poster in the workplace. You must give the employee the actual information that affects them – directly.
- Make sure your communication is easy to understand. Different letters need to be sent to different employees, depending on how they have been segmented. To help with the clarity of the information given you can use The Department for Work and Pensions’ Automatic Enrolment and Pensions Language Guide. This guide will help you to use language that will be readily understood by employees who perhaps aren’t familiar with pension terminology.
Here’s an ‘at a glance’ summary of what you need to communicate and to whom:
- Employees who are being automatically enrolled need to be told:
- Their auto enrolment date
- The amount that will be deducted from their pay
- The amount you (the employer) will pay
- Details about the pension scheme
- That they have a right to opt out
USEFUL RESOURCE from The Pensions Regulator: Letter template for employees who are being automatically enrolled and Insert to accompany letter template for those automatically enrolled.
- That they can opt in
- That they’ll receive employer contributions if they do
USEFUL RESOURCE from The Pensions Regulator: Letter template for those not automatically enrolled.
This HANDY GUIDE from The Pensions Regulator gives a nice summary of what information must be provided to what type of staff and when as well as giving links to find additional information: Detailed guidance 10: Information to workers.