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Auto-enrolment 'biggest' challenge for 40% of employers

Four in ten business leaders regard the implementation of auto-enrolment as the biggest challenge their organisation faces over the coming years, a study has found.

Auto-Enrolment: Expectations versus Reality, commissioned by Buzzacott Employee Solutions and Meridian West, suggests that those who have been through the process found it more arduous than expected - 34% said rolling out the scheme took up more of their time than they thought it would. 

Conversely, companies who are yet to reach their staging date are overwhelmingly confident about the process, with 97% feeling “optimistic” that they can make the changes in good time. 

Amanda Francis, a managing partner at Buzzacott, said the research shows smaller companies that are yet to reach their staging date need to “take a holistic approach” to auto-enrolment if they want to make it work. 

Timing may be key to successful implementation, as 77% of organisations who have now passed their staging date began planning less than 12 months in advance, but wished they had started sooner.

In addition to support offered by Buzzacott Employee Solutions, Barclays and Standard Life are joining forces to offer assistance to smaller companies who are yet to reach their staging date. The next deadline is 1 July 2014, with auto-enrolment target dates stretching out until 2017. 

Richard Phelps, head of Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions, said smaller companies underestimating the scale of the undertaking in auto-enrolment are “threatening the success of the scheme to date”.

“It is thought that to date only 2% of UK companies have successfully completed the auto-enrolment process,” he said. “We are at a critical point as SMEs now start reaching their staging dates in large numbers. Reports suggest that many companies are unaware of their statutory obligations.”