It is anticipated that as lockdown restrictions ease, and particularly with children and young adults returning to education, cases of meningitis will start to rise.
What is auto-enrolment?
The Government introduced legislation in 2012 requiring all UK employers to automatically enrol eligible “jobholders” into an “automatic enrolment scheme” and, in time, to pay employer pension contributions of up to 3%. To help reduce the impact on smaller employers, the Government decided to phase in the introduction of this requirement. There are different “staging dates” for different employers over a five and a half year period based on size of payroll, with smaller employers having their staging date towards 2017.
Who qualifies as a “jobholder”?
A jobholder is broadly defined and includes permanent workers, temporary workers and agency staff. Workers who are eligible for auto-enrolment must, however, have earnings of over £9,440 per year and be between the age of 22 and their state pension age.
What is an “automatic enrolment scheme”?
Broadly speaking, it is an occupational pension scheme, a personal pension scheme or the National Employment Savings Trust (“NEST”). With the exception of NEST, the scheme chosen by an employer must meet set quality requirements to be considered a qualifying pension scheme. The quality requirements will vary depending on the type of scheme and these are set out in the Pensions Act 2008. Employers should check with the Pensions Regulator to ensure that their proposed scheme will qualify.
How can we find out our staging date?
Employers can find out their staging date by using the Pensions Regulator’s staging calculator which is available on the Pensions Regulator website - click here to view. Employers will need to enter their PAYE reference number and must have been in business before 1 April 2012. Employers’ staging dates should also be shown on any correspondence from the Pensions Regulator about employers’ duties under auto-enrolment.
It is possible for employers to bring their staging date forward but, unless they employ less than 50 staff, it will not normally be possible to push it back by more than 3 months.
Employees are able to opt out of auto-enrolment if they choose. Employers had anticipated high opt out rates and indeed had budgeted for this. However, opt out rates have been unexpectedly low. The DWP carried out research with around 50 large employers during the first 6 months of auto-enrolment. The findings (published in 2013 by the DWP in a report entitled: “Automatic enrolment opt out rates: findings from research with large employers”) showed that the average opt out rate of those that were auto-enrolled was 9%. Commentators have suggested that the same will not be true of smaller employers and that the opt out rate is likely to increase as the roll out continues. This remains to be seen but a cautious approach to budgeting for opt outs would be advisable.
Employees with fluctuating earnings
As employers are required to make an assessment of whether an employee is eligible for auto-enrolment in each “pay-reference period” (e.g. if the employee is paid monthly, they will need to be assessed monthly) this may cause difficulties for employers who have employee’s whose earning fluctuate. Employers in the domiciliary care sector are likely to have a significant number of employees whose earnings fluctuate, due to the nature of the work. For example, employees on zero-hour contracts may regularly cross either side of the threshold for annual earnings. In these situations, employers will need to ensure that their assessment is accurate and regular. Once an employee is auto-enrolled, they remain auto-enrolled. That is, if an employee in one month meets the eligibility requirements and is auto-enrolled and the following month the employee’s earnings drop below the threshold, they remain entitled to be a member of the scheme.
TUPE and auto-enrolment
Where an employee is TUPE transferred from one employer to another employer that has passed its staging date, this will trigger a requirement for the new employer to make an assessment at the point of transfer.
Employers are required to match contributions (up to 6%) or offer a direct benefit scheme to employees who transfer to them under TUPE, where the employee was (or was eligible to be) enrolled in an occupational scheme. This means that where an employee was automatically enrolled into an occupational scheme with their previous employer, they could turn out to be entitled to more on transfer than they would have been entitled to with their previous employer.
The DWP has issued draft regulations to try and address this issue but these are yet to come into force.
For more information
Contact Doug Mullen on email@example.com or 0121 212 7432.
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this guidance, it is a summary, rather than a definitive statement of the law; advice should be taken before action is implemented or refrained from in specific cases. No responsibility can be accepted for action taken or refrained from solely by reference to the contents of this article.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.