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Progressing toward the launch of auto-enrolment

Cascade mingled amongst industry leaders, the media and HR and payroll professionals at the CIPD’s Reward Conference in London this month. With an expert programme of seminars and panellist discussions planned throughout the day there was one presentation that Cascade was especially keen to hear – ‘Pension auto-enrolment: everything you need to know and how to get it right’.

Auto-enrolment has long been a discussion topic at Cascade’s Leeds HQ. In March managing director Alan Jones shared some of his opinions surrounding the ever-unfolding new initiative. Elsewhere Cascade’s software development director Dan Edwards and his highly-skilled team are currently building specific functionality within a new module that will cater for the efficient management of auto-enrolment workflow. This functionality will be released in April 2013 as a commitment to existing clients – the largest of which will require the system by this date – and new clients in the future.

The concept of auto-enrolment is simple – encourage people to save. However the associated legislative and practical challenges in truth appear numerous. For example organisations cannot develop a blanket approach to auto-enrolment and think it is safer to simply enrol everyone. Whilst seemingly being over-compliant, auto-enrolling someone who is not actually eligible contradicts the law – employees therefore need to be assessed on an individual basis, and if their pay level fluctuates their eligibility status must be monitored.

At the conference there was concern surrounding the administrative complexity of setting up and managing an auto-enrolment process, which is of course where Cascade can add value. Intuitive technology can help simplify the processes and procedures involved:

  • Proactive workflows will help alleviate the auto-enrolment headache and will ensure employers do not feel overwhelmed by the tasks associated with this new initiative. Workflows will be especially useful when taking on new starters, or knowing what to do next if an employee opts-in or opts-out
  • Software triggers will automatically notify the HR and payroll team if an eligible pay threshold has been met, and therefore if an auto-enrolment consultation needs to take place with a given employee. This of course saves time running off reports or analysing masses of data
  • Flexible systems can be configured to suit organisations’ different employment scenarios
  • Products with a long-term development strategy will ensure clients are future-proofed from ongoing industry developments such as RTI
  • A dedicated customer service function will provide guidance, support and additional consultancy time, whenever it is needed.

As with any large-scale HR or payroll project it is important to allow enough time to prepare for the change, and a designated project manager would undoubtedly be useful.

Organisations’ HR and payroll professionals will have to interact and work together effectively to ensure the sharing of relevant information. This shows that now is the time to invest in a fully-integrated system with a proven ability to become a business-wide management and communication tool too.

Auto-enrolment has been introduced to encourage people to pay more attention to, and make more provisions for retirement. The fact that it is being so highly talked about is a great step in raising awareness of the need to save, especially as we are living for longer.

However the initiative represents a big task for companies to undertake and there are many implications if they get it wrong. In tackling auto-enrolment it is therefore important that companies can rely on suppliers – whether they’re pension providers or software houses – that they can trust.

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