The auto-enrolment journey

The key to feeling in control of your workplace pension is to be prepared

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  • In an ideal world you would take around 12 months to prepare for auto-enrolment.
  • Don't worry if you don't have that much time - you can still follow the steps to meet your obligations and we'll help you at every stage.


+12 months

1. Find out your staging date

Your staging date is the date your auto-enrolment duties take effect. The Pensions Regulator will send you a letter confirming your staging date; they should send you this about 12 months in advance.

If you aren't sure what your date is, it only takes five minutes to find it using your PAYE reference on The Pensions Regulator website.

12 months

2. Nominate your auto-enrolment champion

Let the Pensions Regulator know who will be in charge of the AE process in your business. You can do this through the Pensions Regulator website.

3. Check your data

Make sure you've got the right birth dates, National Insurance number, contact details, and pay information for your employees. It'll come in handy for the next bit.

Auto-enrolment is a lot easier if you have tidy data.

6 months

4. Evaluate your staff

You should work out who is eligible and who isn't to get an idea of costs. There’s more about this on on our eligibility page.

5. Calculate your costs

There’s more on this later in the costs and contributions section – essentially you need to work out how much things like set up costs, contributions and resourcing the management of the scheme are likely to cost you every week and/or month.

It helps to do an initial assessment of your staff's eligibility at this stage to help plan out your next steps.

3 months

6. Check your payroll processes

Ensure any payroll software or bureau you use is ready to deal with your requirements, and check that your processes will still work smoothly when you’re needing to keep track of staff details and contributions to the scheme once it’s up and running.

7. Choose a provider or check your existing pension scheme

Not all pension schemes meet the criteria set out by the regulator, so any existing scheme you have needs to be checked. Your provider will be able to tell you if it’s suitable or not.

If you need to start from scratch, take the time to compare providers. Not all pensions are the same – for example there are different investment options, levels of support with employee communications, retirement support and service levels.

It’s really important to make sure your payroll process can accommodate auto-enrolment.

Getting your scheme going

Once you have a scheme set-up, there are a number of things you have to do at the start.

1 Set up your scheme.

Make sure you leave long enough to get things up and running. We recommend 12 months before. You’ll have a few decisions to make once you’ve set it up, like choosing a contribution level. We’ll tell you more about that at the right time in your journey.

2 Assess and enrol your staff

This is when you need to categorise your workforce so that you know what actions you need to take. You need to make sure you do this by your staging date. There’s more about this on the next page and in your welcome pack once you’ve set up your scheme.

3 Let your employees know

You need to let your employees know, within 6 weeks of your staging date, how auto-enrolment affects them. We can help you do this if you choose a Standard Life scheme.

4 Manage any opt-outs

Employees can choose to opt out of the scheme. We’ll notify all your employees that they have the choice to opt-out and that we’ll manage the whole process for them should they wish to do so. You can find out who has opted-out through regular reports.

5 Declare your compliance

It’s really important that you let the Pensions Regulator know you are complying with your duties within 5 months of your staging date. If you don’t, you might be fined. You do this on the Pensions Regulator website. Even if you haven’t actually had to enrol anyone, you still need to do this bit.

...and keeping it going

There are also a few things that you will have to do every time you pay your staff ... don't worry, we’ll tell you a lot more about your ongoing duties once you’ve set up your scheme, but in a nutshell you need to:

  • Pay regular contributions
  • Keep accurate records of what you've done
  • Keep an eye on your staff eligibility at every pay period
  • Keep your employees engaged in saving for retirement

Our summary of the auto-enrolment journey

  • Ideally you should plan for your workplace pension scheme around 12 months in advance
  • The first key element you need to establish is your staging date
  • At 12 months we recommend that you - nominate your workplace pensions champion and make sure your staff data is up to date and useable
  • At 9 months we recommend that you - evaluate your employees
  • At 6 months we recommend that you - check your payroll processes and select your provider of the new scheme
  • Once you have a scheme you will need to assess your staff each time you pay them to make sure any changes are considered
  • You will need to keep an eye on changes to contributions

But you don't need to worry, once you set-up a scheme we'll give you a detailed plan so you know exactly what you need to do!

What's next?

Who needs to be enrolled?

As you can see there's a lot to know. Let’s move on to how to work out who's eligible - once you know that it helps you plan the rest of your journey.

Or, if you feel ready to set up your scheme, let’s get started

Navigate through the key parts of auto-enrolment