Flex communication must include auto-enrolment

Employers that will reach their auto-enrolment staging date next year are facing one of the last opportunities to adapt their flexible benefits schemes for pensions auto-enrolment and communicate changes to employees to avoid extra costs, said Mark Baker, senior associate at law firm Pinsent Masons.

The most common time of year for organisations to open their flex enrolment window is 1 January, so many will be reissuing flex communications in November and early December.

“It is essential to make sure that flex communications mention auto-enrolment, even if the staging date isn’t until much later in 2013,” said Baker.

“The risk otherwise is that employees will flex their pension contribution down and find themselves auto-enrolled when the organisation reaches its staging date, and end up with higher total pay as a result.”

He added that employers should also look at their employment contracts and the wording of their flex schemes now, because it could be difficult to sort out issues with auto-enrolment contributions later in the year.

He added: “Because many organsiations want flex schemes to be automated, allowing people to make choices online once a year, to go back halfway through the year and re-jig things is going to take up time and money employers are not going to want to spend.”