In April 2012 the Government introduced a legal requirement for employers to enrol certain staff in a pension scheme and make contributions. This obligation, called automatic enrolment, is the Government’s attempt to encourage better private pension provision, especially for people in the lower and middle earning bands.

When does the obligation apply to your business?

Automatic enrolment requires all employers to automatically enrol eligible staff into a qualifying pension scheme and pay minimum employer contributions. This obligation was introduced for larger employers in 2012 and was extended to employers with 50 or more employees last year.  By 2018 the obligation will extend to all employers however small.

In a previous article Freeths covered the requirements of the regulations and how to prepare for them including eligible employees, employer contributions and the use of an existing pension scheme.

How can I find out my staging date?

The staging date for your business is the date on which you are required to enrol eligible employees into a qualifying pension scheme.  Obviously, you will need to know in advance when the staging date is so that you can make the initial plans such as choosing a pension scheme and finding out who to enrol.  The Pensions Regulator is currently writing to all small and micro businesses informing them of their staging date.

 If you have fewer than 50 employees in your PAYE scheme and haven’t yet received a letter from the Pensions Regulator informing you of the staging date for your business then you can find out by putting your PAYE reference into the staging tool on the Pensions Regulator Website –

It may also be possible to change the staging date if, for example, the number of employees in your PAYE scheme has changed.


The Pensions Regulator has published a very useful guide to auto enrolment, how to prepare and ongoing employer obligations.  This can be found at:

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.