Workplace Pension Auto-Enrolment

Did you know that the law states that employees must be able to obtain a Workplace Pension when working for an organisation in the UK? The first question that needs to be answered is ‘Who is entitled to a Workplace Pension?’

Any employee aged between 22 and the State Pension age, whose income is more than £10,000 a year within the UK, is entitled to a Workplace Pension. Automatic enrolment began in October 2012, starting with larger employers.  Over a period of six years, medium and small sized employers are joining the automatic enrolment.

When employers enrol on behalf of employees onto a Pension Scheme, the first thing to do is to make sure they send contact information to The Pension Regulator. These details should be for the most senior person within a company or organisation for example, a Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director.

Step two is to stage a date. This is when the new automatic enrolment duties come into force for a particular business.  It is dependent on whether enrolment of the staff is necessary in terms of eligibility for a pension and also the number of staff working for the company.

It is important to make sure that employers do not take action to jeopardise employees from enrolling in the pension scheme.

There are many penalties for those who do not comply with a Workplace Pension. There is a fixed penalty notice which is set at £400 as well as other penalties that vary in the size of the fine according to the number of employees within an organisation.  These penalties include:

 

  • An escalating penalty (ranging from £50 to £10,000 per day depending on number of staff)
  • A civil penalty (ranging from £5,000 to £50,000 on an individual or the business itself bases)
  • Prohibited Recruitment Conduct Penalty Notice (ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 depending on number of staff)

The Workplace Pension enrolment requires a significant level of information in order to register employees. You will have to give:

 

  • Company/Business name
  • Contact details for the business owner
  • The number of employees and a list of employees with their key information
  • Director identification documents (UK driving licence/UK passport)
  • Planned employee groups and company contributions.

Once you have auto-enrolled the appropriate employees in your organisation, a submission of a declaration of compliance to The Pensions Regulator must be undertaken.

 

Incidentally, auto-enrolment duties to the Workplace Pension do not apply if you are a Sole Trader, with no other staff.

 

If you would like to know more about how to enrol your staff to a workplace pension scheme, one of Thomas Coombs’s business advisors would be more than happy to help. Call now on 0113 2449512 or email mail@thomascoombs.com

Stuart Adam, Thomas Coombs

Late Payments: The Difference between Small and Large Firms

Recently, we published an article entitled Late Payments: How to Claim Interest, and we thought it might be appropriate to go into some more detail about situations in which claiming late payment is not the best tactic.

You may be aware of the supplier’s right to claim interest in the case of non-payment from a customer, and the steps of communication that can make this simple right a powerful tool for incentivising timely payment.

However, for larger customers, who don’t tend to have the same issues with cashflow, the motivation for late payment is unlikely to be that they simply don’t have enough money in the bank this month, or that there is a queue of creditors to work through before they can pay your invoice.

Key to managing relationships with larger business customers is understanding how they work. Big businesses do not generally have to schedule their payments to suppliers to fit in with payments coming in – they won’t be waiting for their customers to pay them before they can address your invoices.  Instead, there is more likely to be a fixed system in place, and your invoice goes through this system before payments come out of the other end.

In this situation, it can be more effective to try to understand the system and work out how to make sure your invoices are dealt with promptly, rather than charging interest to a customer who, due to their size, may be key to your business’s success. Are your invoices clear?  Are they being sent to the right person within the customer’s company? Crucially, do you have a purchase order reference?

The problem that many smaller business owners have is that a) they often don’t look at the terms of business well enough, and b) they aren’t aware of the importance of getting the right documentation to the right people at the right time.

If you would like to learn more about improving your cashflow, one of Thomas Coombs’s business advisers would be more than happy to help. Call now on 0113 2449512 or email mail@thomascoombs.com.

Late Payments: How to Claim Interest

For SMEs in all industries, late payments for goods and services can be a real issue. Cashflow is harder to manage for smaller suppliers, and SME owners can often feel helpless when dealing with larger customers.  A question on the lips of many SMEs we’ve spoken to is “What tools can I leverage to ensure speedy recovery of payments?”

One method by which SMEs can push for payment of invoices is by claiming interest on late payments. The statutory right to interest and compensation applies to all contracts and, as the interest on payments accumulates, it provides a powerful deterrent to late payment.

The law gives the supplier the right to charge interest at 8% above the Bank of England’s base rate – however, although the Bank of England has recently changed that rate to 0.25%, SMEs can continue to charge at 8% over the old rate of 0.5% until 31 December 2016. This is because the rates are fixed for six-month periods; the rate on 31 December is valid for the period of 1 January to 30 June, and the rate on 30 June is valid for the period of 1 July to 31 December.

In many cases, the rate of interest dictated by Bank of England base rate plus 8% will be more expensive for a late-paying customer (who is effectively borrowing from you) than overdraft money from the bank. This incentivises timely payment.

You may think that claiming interest on late payments may seem to be adverse to good customer relationships, but by having a clear system in place, suppliers can actually avoid awkward situations.

Communication with late payers is key, and can be distilled into three steps:

  1. State agreed payment dates on all invoices and your intention to exercise the right to charge interest on late payments.
  2. If the invoice is not paid by the agreed payment date, inform customers of the interest that they are now accruing.
  3. Once the payment has been received, issue a bill to the payer informing them of how the interest was calculated and how much was paid.

This communication is an effective tool for ensuring timely payment with a minimum of friction between supplier and customer, and no undue surprises for the customer.

If you would like to know more about how to deal with late payments, one of the Thomas Coombs business advisers would be more than happy to help.  Call now on 0113 2449512 or email mail@thomascoombs.com