Auto-enrolment: declaration of compliance

Between May and August more than 100,000 small employers and their business advisers complete and submit a Declaration of Compliance to The Pensions Regulator. 

With this in mind, we share below an article from The Pensions Regulator, AE and what you need to know about completing a declaration of compliance

All employers have workplace pensions’ duties which mean they will need to automatically enrol certain staff into a pension scheme and make contributions to it. They need to assess their staff, put those that they need to into a pension scheme, and tell them about automatic enrolment. They should start planning for automatic enrolment 12 months before their staging date. This is the date their duties come into effect.  

Many of your clients may ask you for help and support with their automatic enrolment duties, with insight from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) indicating that many employers are asking their adviser to help them to complete and submit their declaration of compliance. Completing the declaration shows TPR what employers have done to meet their duties. 

Who needs to complete a Declaration of Compliance?

All employers with one or more staff have a legal requirement to complete a Declaration of Compliance. Even if they do not have any staff to put into a pension, they must complete the declaration to confirm they have met their duties. 

When does it need to be completed by?

Each employer has a declaration of compliance deadline which falls five months after their staging date. Their declaration of compliance needs to be completed and submitted to TPR by this deadline. Although employers have five months to complete their declaration, we recommend they start completing it as soon as possible after their staging date. Filling in details as they go through the automatic enrolment process will help employers avoid missing their deadline. 

What if postponement has been used?

If postponement has been used, a declaration of compliance cannot be completed until after the postponement period has ended. However, don’t leave filling in the details until then as there may be very little time between the end of the postponement period and the declaration deadline. It’s a good idea to fill in the details as you get them so that you do not risk running out of time.

Can I do this on behalf on my client?

If your client has asked you to complete the declaration on their behalf, it remains the employer’s responsibility to ensure the declaration is completed on time and the information provided to us is correct. If not, they risk a fine. So, make sure there is agreement about who is completing the declaration of compliance and that the information is correct. 

What if I don’t complete the declaration on time?

Failure to complete your declaration on time could lead to a fine. 

How can I access the Declaration of Compliance?

The declaration is a secure, online form. You will need to register with Government Gateway as an employer agent before you can complete a declaration of compliance on behalf of your client.

What information do I need to complete it?

If you have all the relevant information to hand it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete your client’s declaration. Information you’ll need to complete the declaration: 

  • Government Gateway User ID
  • Letter code from TPR
  • Your contact details
  • Your relationship to the employer
  • Name of the employer
  • Employer contact details
  • Employer email address
  • Employer correspondence address
  • Type of pension scheme(s) used for AE (personal or occupational)
  • Employer pension scheme reference (EPSR).

Top tips

  • Make a note of all logins and passwords.
  • Start your declaration before your client’s staging date; you can save your progress and return at a later date.
  • If postponement has been used for any staff, the declaration cannot be submitted until after the postponement period has ended.
  • Save your declaration at regular intervals as the system will timeout after a short period of inactivity.
  • Remember to select ‘submit’ at the end of the form to complete the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My client only has one member of staff and he doesn’t want to be in a pension scheme. Does a declaration still need to be completed?
A: Yes – every employer with at least one member of staff will need to complete a declaration of compliance. If only one member of staff needs to be put into a scheme, they’ll still need to be automatically enrolled before they can ask to opt out. 

Q: What happens if the declaration is not completed by the deadline? Can it still be completed if it's late?
A: It is the employer’s legal duty to complete their declaration of compliance correctly and on time. If it is not completed on time, then action is likely to be taken by TPR which could lead to a fine. If you are or your client is having difficulties implementing automatic enrolment or gathering the information to complete your declaration by your deadline, please contact TPR immediately. 

Q: I’ve signed up for a Government Gateway ID on behalf of my client and it says I’ve enrolled, but I haven’t had to provide any information apart from a letter code and PAYE reference number – does this mean I’ve completed the declaration?
A: No it doesn't. When you successfully sign up for a Government Gateway account, you’ll receive a message confirming this. It doesn’t mean that the declaration has been completed, it just means you’ve successfully created a Government Gateway account. Once you have an account, you can then complete your client’s declaration of compliance online. 

Q: Can I provide approximate figures at declaration and then confirm them at a later date? Can this information be updated after the declaration is submitted? If so, how long do I have to update it?
A: Your client is legally responsible for ensuring  the information you submit is complete and correct and you will be required to confirm this on the declaration.  You must not submit the declaration with inaccurate information as it’s an offence to knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information. If, after you complete your declaration, you find out you have mistakenly provided incorrect details, you should update them as soon as possible. You’ll need to confirm again that the information provided is correct and complete before re-submitting the declaration of compliance.

Case study

Swindon Town Football Company Limited (STFC) received fines from The Pensions Regulator totalling of £22,900 after it failed to put eligible workers into a pension scheme or comply with other workplace pension duties.

STFC was issued with a compliance notice on 18 August 2014 directing it to automatically enrol staff and pay contributions but failed to comply by the deadline of 17 October 2014. There were several further delays in the employer complying with their duties, and as a result TPR’s intervention escalated from a focus on remedial action to one of enforcement action.