Half a million employers meet workplace pension duties

More than half a million employers have now completed their duties under the Government's landmark workplace pension savings drive.

The Pensions Regulator said by March 31, 503,178 employers had completed their duties under automatic enrolment, with more than 7.6 million workers now saving for their retirement after being put into a workplace pension.

Automatic enrolment started in 2012 with the biggest employers that tend to have the most experience of pensions. It is now being rolled out to smaller employers, some employing just one or two people.

The Pensions Regulator said in the first three months of this year alone, 136,000 small and micro employers complied with their responsibilities under the Pensions Act, an average of one every 57 seconds.

In total, around 1.3 to 1.4 million UK employers will eventually have automatic enrolment duties to meet.

So far, auto-enrolment has been seen as a success, with around nine in 10 people staying in their workplace pension. But there are potential bumps in the road ahead, such as how workers can be encouraged to save more than just the minimum into their pension so they can enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Other issues that have been raised include how to ensure people currently outside the scope of auto-enrolment can build up their pension savings. Concerns have also been raised that the recently-launched Lifetime Isa could impact on pension saving.

In December, the Government announced a review of automatic enrolment to encourage more people to save into a workplace pension. 

The review will gather evidence on groups such as people with multiple jobs who do not qualify for automatic enrolment in any single job. It will also consider how the growing numbers of self-employed people can be helped to save for their retirement.

A pensions dashboard is also being developed so people will be able to see all their savings pots in one place and more easily work out how much more they will need to save for their retirement. 

Charles Counsell, the Pensions Regulator's executive director of automatic enrolment, said: "I'm delighted that we've reached the 500,000 mark.

"Hundreds of thousands more employers are due to follow suit over the coming months and it is vital that they act early and do not leave themselves open to being fined."

Employers can use a duties checker on the Pensions Regulator's website to understand what they must do.

Pensions Minister Richard Harrington said: "These impressive new figures show that by setting up a workplace pension, employers are getting their staff on the road to a financially secure retirement.

"But there are nearly a million employers out there who still need to enrol their staff and I would encourage them to take up the support on offer from the Pensions Regulator."

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