The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors is reminding industry employers that they need to understand what their legal responsibilities are, what they need to do, and by when.

Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a workplace pension and contribute towards it through automatic enrolment.

John Thompson, CEO of APHC commented: "Once you employ at least one person you are an employer and you’ll have certain legal duties. You’ll need to decide how much to pay, check if they have the legal right to work in the UK, determine whether you need to register as an employer with HMRC, take out employer’s liability insurance, among others. Automatic enrolment of employees into an eligible workplace pension is just one of these legal duties.

“If you’ve recently become a new employer, or are thinking of employing someone for the first time in the future, you need to make sure you know what you need to do to meet your automatic enrolment duties, and by when, otherwise you risk a fine if you do not comply with the law on time.

“If you already employ staff, or plan to take on someone before 1 October 2017, you will be given a staging date by The Pensions Regulator, who will write to you to confirm when this will be, and what you’ll need to do.

“If you employ your first member of staff from 1 October 2017 onwards, then your legal duties for automatic enrolment will begin on the day your first member of staff starts work.”

The Pensions Regulator advises employers that on the day your duties start for automatic enrolment, you must assess your staff to see if they meet the age and earnings criteria to be put into a pension scheme.

• You will need to put those staff who meet the age and earnings criteria into a pension scheme that qualifies for automatic enrolment, and pay into it.

• You must write to each member of staff within six weeks of when your duties started (whether or not staff meet the criteria to be put into a pension scheme) to tell them how automatic enrolment applies to them.

• You’ll also need to tell The Pensions Regulator how you've met your legal duties by completing your declaration of compliance. This is a legal requirement which must be completed and submitted to The Pensions Regulator within five months of your duties start date.

“All employers have ongoing duties for automatic enrolment. Each time you pay your staff, including new starters, you must monitor their age and earnings to see if they need to be put into a pension scheme and how much you need to pay in. You will also need to manage requests to join or leave your scheme”, John Thompson concluded.

APHC members have access to a qualifying workplace pension scheme through their membership and are able to obtain advice and guidance on setting-up and operating a workplace pension scheme including automatic enrolment requirements.

The Pensions Regulator has information and guidance on their website to help small employers understand what they need to do, and by when including what you need to do if your staff are not in a PAYE scheme earning £113 a week (£490 a month) or below.