EXCLUSIVE: Helen Farr (pictured), partner at law firm Fox Williams, will discuss what employers need to consider around pensions auto-re-enrolment and the potential legal pitfalls at Employee Benefits Live 2017.
The session, titled ‘Getting auto-re-enrolment right’, will form part of the workplace pensions conference stream on Tuesday 10 October.
During the session, Farr will explain employers’ legal obligations around pensions auto-re-enrolment, and talk through some of the common mistakes and challenges that employers should be aware of when completing their pension duties.
Farr will discuss issues such as which employees qualify for auto-enrolment and re-enrolment, difficulties around the relevant re-enrolment earnings trigger, for example, if employees perform different job roles for the same employer with each job earning under the £10,000 earning threshold, and also how the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) auto-enrolment review could impact on workplace pensions processes, for example, taking into account employees who perform different part-time job roles for different employers.
In addition, Farr will highlight the issues around opting out of a workplace pension, explaining that employers cannot be seen to be forcing employees to opt out of their occupational pension arrangement. She will also speak about the compliance obligations, for example, the records that need to be kept up to date and the information that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) needs to remain informed about. In line with this, Farr will speak about the penalties of non-compliance, which is especially pertinent TPR tightens its enforcement action.
Farr will also showcase the business benefits of auto-enrolment and re-enrolment, explaining how this can give employers the opportunity to re-assess their pensions provision, and talk about communications to employees.
She said: “I [want] to focus on the pitfalls of auto-enrolment that [employers] need to be aware of when they’re re-enrolling, and then the business benefits. But also, to really focus on the fact that the evidence is that The Pensions Regulator seems to be tightening its regime.
“It’s important to discuss [auto-re-enrolment] because, from a regulatory and compliance perspective, obviously there are quite reputational and financial penalties if [employers] get it wrong, so [they’ve] got to be seen to be compliant.
“Just because [employers] might have gone through the process of auto-enrolling staff three years ago and [they’ve] complied, please don’t overlook this, because [TPR] is going to be checking that employers are complying and it’s important that people handle it in an appropriate way and a responsible way to avoid regulatory sanction and reputational issues for their business.”
Employee Benefits Live 2017 will take place on Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 October at Olympia National, London.