New guidance setting out how employers can meet their automatic enrolment (AE) duties as they navigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been published today.

The guidance is part of The Pensions Regulator’s package of measures to safeguard pensions through these unprecedented challenges.

To ensure savers receive the pensions they are due, employers are being reminded they continue to have automatic enrolment responsibilities.

However, employers are reassured that TPR will support them and take a proportionate approach to any enforcement decisions in light of the current pressures.

The guidance provides further information for employers about maintaining pension contributions.

While the minimum correct contributions must be made on time, information published highlights flexibilities available to employers during this time.

Employers concerned they will struggle to make their contributions are urged to speak to their pension provider. TPR has written to providers asking them to be as flexible as possible when agreeing contribution payment dates.

The period in which schemes must report payment failures has been extended from 90 days to 150 days to give trustees and providers more time to work with employers to bring payments up to date.

Employers can also access information, which will be updated again in due course, about the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which allows them to claim back minimum AE employer contributions for furloughed staff.

TPR’s Head of Automatic Enrolment, Joe Turner, said: “These are unprecedented times and we are acutely aware of the pressure employers are now under. While employers continue to have responsibilities, we are weaving in as much flexibility as possible to help employers and protect savers.

“We are continually reviewing and updating our guidance to respond to the challenges as they unfold. Further guidance will be published shortly outlining in more detail what employers can expect from us in the weeks and months ahead.”

The new employer guidance includes:

  • information about the government’s Job Retention Scheme
  • what employers need to know about payroll
  • maintaining AE pensions contributions
  • information for employers paying more than the minimum AE contributions
  • re-enrolment responsibilities and flexibilities
  • what employers must do if staff ask to opt out or reduce their contributions