Under auto-enrolment rules, all employers need to offer their workforce a qualifying workplace pension. Today’s insight looks at the support and functionality workplace pension providers have in place to help employers stay compliant and manage their employer duties.

It is perhaps unsurprising to see that when it comes to defined employer duty requirements, all workplace pension provider systems are able to handle the basics. This will be a blessing for many as not all employers will have a financial adviser on hand to help them, therefore employers who are setting up the scheme and managing it themselves, will welcome support from their chosen pension provider.  

All of the providers in our research have confirmed that they have systems and support in place to assist with:

  • Setting up the scheme,
  • Providing support for opting in and joining,
  • Managing opt outs and,
  • Providing the statutory communications

Our data also shows that all providers are able to provide online guidance about what employer duties are.

All workplace pension providers have an online portal or dashboard through which automatic enrolment duties can be monitored and reviewed. This will be the central hub for most users to carry out their monthly tasks and administration.

As can been seen in the graph below, these dashboard’s can be accessed by various key people, depending on how the scheme has been set up and managed.

All providers offer access for the employer. The majority (86%) of providers offer access to both accountants and payroll bureaus (Fidelity and Legal & General are those who do not), and all providers other than Legal & General offer access to advisers.

In terms of what information can be accessed, our data shows that all providers offer information on the number of active scheme members, category of workers, total employee contributions, total employer contributions and when the last data/file upload or transfer took place.

Details of members who have opted for postponement are displayed by 80% of providers, whilst opt-out details are displayed by 91%.

Our data also shows that only three quarter of providers display when the next data/file upload or transfer is due to take place. Those who do not offer this are Legal & General, Mercer Master Trust (Scottish Widows) and Scottish Widows

The picture is a little different when it comes sending notifications or alerting the user when actions need to take place or are outstanding. Far fewer providers go to the extent of helping the user with these.

Only 50% of workplace pension providers will flag or otherwise notify the user of forthcoming events that will require an action. Just over half (57%) of provider dashboards or portals will apply a ‘RAG’ status to events or actions and mark them as overdue, pending or due. Both of these services would be very valuable to user.

Other than Legal & General, all workplace pension provider systems will alert an employer if they are not meeting their duties automatically, without any human intervention. The Pensions Regulator can impose fines ranging from £400 fixed penalties to daily escalating fines of £50 to £10,000, so getting something wrong could be a very costly mistake, therefore having a provider system which can highlight when you are not meeting all the required duties could be very useful.

Under the current rules, every three years an employer must put certain staff who have left the pension scheme back into it. Our data shows that all workplace pension provider systems are able to provide support to assist with the triennial re-enrolment. 67% of systems do this automatically, with 3% doi1ng this on a manual basis.

Overall, our data shows that that it is a mixed bag between how provider systems handle defined employer duty requirements. Most seem to favour the employer, and a few seem to restrict what and adviser can see or do. All providers do what they need to in order to ensure that the scheme is running correctly, but the real value is added by the support which is given to the employer so that they can be sure that they remain complaint and all of their duties are met each month.