Market apathy over auto-enrolment is set to rise

Market apathy continues following an industry appraisal of the UK business markets attitude to Auto-enrolment and how employers should be thinking regarding their future obligations. Currently the entire SME market sector is in a state of total denial, choosing to ignore the requirement which in itself is quite frightening.

It appears that the larger firms are committed to their staging dates and appear to be on track. It is the SME’s and predominantly the Medium sized firms in this community that are in a state of apathy over the whole process.

“Most traditional workplace pensions were set up on a voluntarily basis and had the buy-in from key departments such as finance, human resources and payroll. We are now moving into an era where most plans are being set up to deal with a statutory responsibility and it is unrealistic to expect every one of those departments (who may all be the same person, in some businesses) to treat Auto-enrolment with an equal amount of urgency and enthusiasm.”
— Neil Morrow

Why is this? Is Auto-enrolment seen as a poisoned chalice? Do many of the business owners in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector (those that should be staging right now) really not care about Auto-enrolment. They may have glanced at the letter from The Pensions Regulator or had a brief chat with their accountant, but in the main it is nowhere near the top of their ‘to do’ list, even if they are due to stage in a matter of months.

While most businesses understand the need to comply with Auto-enrolment, a large proportion of the UK’s SMEs are not engaging with the problem. In fact research we carried out in October 2013 showed 49.6% of employers still do not understand what Auto-enrolment is and 88.6% of those due to stage within 12 months have not started preparations.

Standard Life recently stated that it was seeing on a small fraction of the business they anticipated at this stage in terms of the number of companies staging at this year.

Kai Tang

The EB Partnership, Apsley House, 176 Upper Richmond Road, London, SW15 2SH