Employers who are required to auto-enrol their workers in company pension schemes this year may find complying with requirements tougher than their predecessors, the National Employment Savings Trust has warned
A NEST survey of employers set to enrol this year highlighted 'fundamental gaps' in knowledge, experience and expectations that could present them with challenges in meeting the requirements.
These gaps included a lack of experience in running pension schemes. Around a third of 2014 employers either do not currently offer their workers a pension or have only a shell stakeholder scheme in place, whereas all 2013 employers already offered a pension. Only half (52%) said they had a good understanding of pensions, compared with 96% of those firms that staged last year.
The NEST insight report also found that some employers know little about pensions and have not engaged with the detail of the reforms, showing little awareness of options including the possibility to postpone enrolment for three months.
There was also a 'disconnect' between employers' intentions and their level of preparation. Only one in ten employers said they planned to leave it as late as possible to comply. However, this was at odds with the fact that only a quarter (23%) of firms in the stage between February and July have confirmed the provider they intend to use and done everything they need to be ready, NEST said.
Commenting on the findings, NEST chief executive Tim Jones said: 'The success of automatic enrolment so far, with low opt-out rates and over 2.5 million workers automatically enrolled in a workplace pension, is due in large part to the efforts of first year employers.
'2014 sees a new set of employers meeting their duties and they may find it more difficult than their predecessors. Our research suggests that nine out of ten employers will expect help to fill any gaps in experience, expectations and knowledge.'
Yvonne Braun, head of savings retirement and social care at the Association of British Insurers said: 'Auto-enrolment has started well, exceeding the expectations of many, and the industry has delivered high-quality schemes. This provides a good foundation for the challenges ahead.
'This report is a timely reminder of the need for momentum to be maintained, particularly as smaller employers approach their staging dates.'