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76% of employers consider auto-enrolment legislation to be unnecessarily complex or difficult

According to 76 per cent of HR, payroll and finance professionals, auto-enrolment legislation is currently unnecessarily complex or difficult. The findings were part of an interactive poll conducted among a record 600+ attendees at the 2013 Ceridian Customer Conference held at the London Hilton, Park Lane on 28 February. Organised by one of the UK’s leading HCM technology and service providers, the conference was attended by representatives from a wide variety of different sectors and sized organisations.

David Woodward, Chief Product and Innovation Officer, at Ceridian UK said:

Our interactive poll showed that 22 per cent of HR, payroll and finance professionals consider auto enrolment legislation to be currently unnecessarily complex and a further 54 per rate it to be difficult. Of the latter, 39 per cent had plans in place to address the difficulties. Only seven per cent thought the legislation easily manageable but, as with all respondents, had yet to stage so may yet change their minds once their staging date draws nearer! As the pension regulator said on more than one occasion during our expert panel session, the devil is in the detail. And Steve Jones, pensions manager at Asda agreed, stating that the legislation is unbelievably complex and you need 12 months minimum to prepare.

In our discussions with many organisations, we have found the general initial reaction to be one that all will be fine. Only when we go into the detail do they fully appreciate the complexity of auto-enrolment compliance. Many of those polled have not yet gone through the detail so we would expect an even higher percentage to view the legislation as unnecessarily complex or difficult as they get into the actual planning process.

Conference delegates were in fact asked how much time their organisations have allowed for ensuring auto-enrolment compliance ahead of their staging date. A worrying seven per cent admitted allowing less than three months, 17 per cent between three and six months, 38 per cent between six and 12 months and 30 per cent over one year. Nine per cent did not know.

David Woodward observed:

I think anyone with experience of auto-enrolment would be concerned at the above results. Asda is one of the largest employers in the UK and successfully staged last October and so far has recorded an opt-out rate of just eight per cent. However, Steve Jones was firmly of the opinion that you need a minimum of 12 months preparation and 15 months was ideal. Our experience with many organisations is that the cross-organisation planning required to ensure compliance is slowing down employer planning and decision-making, adding to the time pressures to meet staging date deadlines.

Of the participants at the conference, 42 per cent worked in payroll, 23 per cent in HR, 13 per cent in finance, nine per cent covering all three and 12 per cent in other functions.

The interactive poll was conducted at the Ceridian Customer Conference.

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