Get your business ready

There’s a lot involved in getting your business ready for auto-enrolment. Our step-by-step guide walks you through what decisions and actions you’ll need to take – before and after your staging date.

Before you start

  • The guide is for employers who have a ‘Your Company Pension’ scheme with Aviva (those with scheme numbers beginning SP0 or TK0). If you have a different scheme, email aenrol@aviva.co.uk with your scheme name and number, and we’ll let you know what to do.
  • Prefer some hands-on help to prepare for auto-enrolment? We offer a range of fee-based services for employers with a ‘Your Company Pension’ scheme. Email aeshelp@aviva.co.uk with your scheme name and number for details.

Don't have a pension scheme?

Please visit aviva.co.uk/pensions-and-retirement/company-pension/ to learn about our workplace pension products.

Stage 1: Get ready

First of all, you’ll need to prepare your business and make some decisions about your pension scheme.

Step 1: Tell us your staging date

When? ASAP

Your staging date is when you have to start performing your auto-enrolment duties. You need to find out what yours is, and put a plan in place to get ready in time.

Once you’ve found out your staging date, please send us an email to aenrol@aviva.co.uk confirming:

  • your company name
  • your staging date
  • if you’re planning to use your current Aviva scheme for auto-enrolment
  • the name and email address of your company pension decision-maker.

Please do this as soon as you can. If you leave it too late, we might not be able to help you stage in time.

How to find out your staging date

The Pensions Regulator will write to tell you what your staging date is 12 months in advance of it. But you can also find out now by using their staging date calculator. It’s worth doing this as soon as possible, as it can take a long time to review and update your pension, processes and systems.

Can you change your staging date?

You can bring it forward, if you want, but you can’t put it back. If you decide to do so, you’ll need to inform The Pensions Regulator at least one month before the revised date.

You can also postpone some of your duties by up to three months so they fit in better with your business. The period you postpone for is called a ‘postponement period’. If you do this, you’ll still need to have a qualifying pension scheme set up and to communicate with your employees within six weeks of your staging date.

What happens if you don’t perform your duties in time?

If you fail to comply with your duties once you reach your staging date, The Pensions Regulator may take enforcement action, and can issue significant fines (for example, if you have 50-249 staff you could be issued with a penalty notice of £2,500 a day for some breaches).

Step 2: Do a quick assessment of your workforce

When? ASAP

The next step is to assess your workforce and split them into the different auto-enrolment categories.

You don’t need to do a formal assessment of your workforce until your staging date (or after postponement). So a quick assessment will do. This will give you an idea of who you’ll have to automatically enrol into your pension scheme – and how much it’s likely to cost you in pension contributions.

What’s involved in assessing your workforce?

  1. First, you’ll need to work out which of your employees are classed as ‘workers’, as these are the employees you need to assess.
  2. Next, you need to identify which of these workers are already in a pension scheme and paying in at least the minimum contributions required under auto-enrolment.
  3. Finally, you need to split the rest of them into different categories. You have responsibilities for each category of worker, explained in The Pensions Regulator’s guide, above.

If you use our auto-enrolment contributions modeller (see below), it will automatically do all of this for you. When you come to do a formal assessment of your workforce, we recommend you use our compliance software to help you do it quickly and more easily. See step 4 for details of our compliance software.

Use our assessment tool

Our auto-enrolment contributions modeller will help you do a quick assessment of your workforce. It also allows you to see how much different contribution bases will cost your business.

Step 3: Set your pension and auto-enrolment strategy

When? ASAP

There are several different ways you can handle auto-enrolment, so once you’ve done a quick assessment of your workforce, the next step is to decide upon an approach that works for your company.

You’ll need the answers to the questions below when you submit your pension scheme assessment form – see Step 6, below.

The questions you need to answer

  1. Will you be using auto-enrolment or contractual enrolment? More about the types of enrolment you can use
  2. Will you be using salary sacrifice or reducing salaries? More about salary sacrifice and reduced salaries
  3. Will you be using a postponement period? More about postponement
  4. Will you be using your current Aviva scheme for existing members only – or for both existing and auto-enrolled members?

You may need a financial adviser

If you have a financial adviser, you may find it useful to get their help when deciding upon your auto-enrolment strategy. If you don’t already have one, you can find details of financial advisers near you at unbiased.co.uk

Step 4: Decide whether to use our compliance software

When? ASAP

With so many tasks to perform for auto-enrolment, you may find it useful to use our compliance software, Auto-enrolment Manager for Employers (AME). AME makes performing many of your regulatory duties much quicker and easier – freeing you up to concentrate on your day job.

Key benefits:

  • Provider-neutral, and handles multiple schemes
    If you have several defined contribution pension schemes, AME will work for them all – even those not provided by Aviva.
  • Assesses your workforce quickly and simply
    Once you’ve uploaded your employee data from payroll, AME will sort each staff member into the correct auto-enrolment category. It then helps you take any actions needed.
  • Automated regulatory communications
    Send the right communications, to the right staff, at the right time – all with a few mouse clicks.
  • Hassle-free continuous monitoring
    AME makes it easy for you to monitor your workforce after staging – and it helps you take any actions needed.

Are there any alternatives?

Yes. If you’d prefer not to use AME, speak with your payroll provider, who may be able to help. Make sure to check that their software will work with your pension scheme or schemes, as not all do. A number of other companies also produce compliance software.

How to request AME for your business

You can find information about AME in our Resources centre including demonstrations of how it works.

If you’ve decided you want to use AME for your business, even if you’re not using your existing scheme for auto-enrolment, please complete the relevant part of the assessment form and send it to us – see Step 6, below.

Step 5 Choose your default investment option

When? ASAP

Every auto-enrolment pension scheme must have a good quality default investment option. This is where new scheme members’ pension contributions will be invested unless they choose another option after they’ve been enrolled. So it’s important to choose your default option carefully.

You’ll need to tell us which investment option you want to use when you complete the pension scheme assessment form (see Step 6, below).

The options you can choose from

We’ve created a range of three lifestage investment approaches – known as our Future Focus range – that you can choose your default investment from.

These approaches have been specially designed for when you auto-enrol new members into your Aviva Company Pension Scheme. They are available in three risk/return ratings.

Key benefits of our Future Focus range:

  • Low cost – no extra charges for your employees to pay.
  • Three risk/return ratings available – making it easy to pick an appropriate option for your employees.
  • We make all the investment decisions – so the scheme member doesn’t have to.
  • Plus – we handle 100% of the governance recommended by the Department for Work and Pensions.

For full details of the approaches and the funds they invest in, please read the guide below.

Want to use a different investment?

If you don’t want to use one of our Future Focus approaches, you may be able to use your existing default investment for new scheme members. If that’s what you’d like to do, we may need to carry out governance checks to make sure the approach meets The Pensions Regulator’s guidelines.

What happens if you don’t make a choice?

If you don’t tell us which investment option you want to use, we’ll set up Future Focus 2 as your default investment option for new members. For more details about this lifestage approach, please read the guide below.

Where will existing members’ contributions be invested?

Existing scheme members’ pension contributions will continue to be invested in their current investment choice.

Step 6: Submit a pension scheme assessment form

When? ASAP, but not later than six months before your staging date.

To find out whether you can use your existing Aviva scheme for auto-enrolment – or if you’ll need a new one – please complete our assessment form and send it to us.

When completing the form, you’ll need to give us details of your current scheme. You’ll also need to provide some auto-enrolment-related information, such as your staging date, and whether you want to use our compliance software, AME.

If you’re not using your existing scheme for auto-enrolment but still want to use AME, please complete the relevant part of the assessment form and send it to us.

How to submit your form

Once you’ve completed the form, please save it and send a copy to agpuk@aviva.co.uk

What happens afterwards?

Once you’ve submitted your form, we’ll tell you:

  • if your current scheme is a qualifying scheme, which you can use to meet your auto-enrolment duties for existing scheme members
  • if you can use your current scheme to automatically enrol new members
  • any new terms that would apply for new members being automatically enrolled
  • if there are any groups of employees we won’t be able to offer terms on.
  • any terms that would apply for AME. This will set out the set up fee and annual fee for using AME.

If your current scheme can’t be used for auto-enrolment, we’ll offer you terms for a new scheme or help you find a provider who will be able to offer you terms. We aim to respond within 10 working days of receiving your form

If you’re happy to go ahead on the terms we offer, let us know – then you’re ready to move to Stage 2: Get set.

Need help completing the pension scheme assessment form?

If you have a financial adviser, it may be a good idea getting their help to complete the form. If you don’t have one but need a hand completing the form, you can find details of advisers near you at unbiased.co.uk

Stage 2: Get set

You’ve done the initial prep work. Now it’s time to get your pension scheme ready to go.

Step 1: Complete paperwork and book in your installation meeting

When? Four months before your staging date.

Once you’ve agreed to go ahead with Aviva, we’ll send you an email in which we’ll:

  • outline what you’ll need to do to get your scheme ready for auto-enrolment
  • send you the forms we need you to complete and return to us,

We’ll assign a dedicated consultant who’ll help you stage your scheme – and we’ll book in an installation meeting – to be held over the phone - for you at a convenient time (see step 2, below).

Step 2: Dial in to your installation meeting

When? At the agreed date and time

Once you’ve returned the forms we sent you, we’ll need you to dial in to your installation meeting. During the meeting, your Aviva consultant will:

  • reconfirm with you the basis of the scheme and set-up for staging with Aviva
  • agree an implementation timeline
  • introduce our new employer servicing zone, and give you a simple user guide. This will tell you how to send us details of employees you enrol, their contributions and how we tell you about any of your employees who choose to opt out.
  • answer any questions you have

If you’re using our compliance software, AME, we’ll arrange a follow-up meeting to help you get started with the system, and we’ll give you access to a practice system.

Step 3 Get to grips with our compliance software

Please note: You only need to go through this step if you’re using our compliance software, AME, to make auto-enrolment easier. If you’ve decided not to use AME, head straight to step 4.

When? About three months before your staging date.

During your installation meeting (see step 2, above), we’ll book in a follow-up session to help you get started with our auto-enrolment compliance software, AME.

Before the session, we’ll give you access to our AME practice system. As well as giving you chance to have a look around, you can use the practice version to check the compatibility of your payroll files – and make any changes needed before you start using AME for real. Make sure you change your temporary password within 10 days of receiving your invitation email.

What happens during the session?

During the session, a member of our installation team will talk you through how to use AME. They will:

  • help you set up your scheme and upload your payroll file
  • take you through the certification process and show you how to model different contribution bases
  • show you how to complete your compliance check
  • answer any questions you have.

IMPORTANT: What to do before the session

In order to use AME, you’ll need to have certain pieces of information ready. So before the session, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Complete the AME fact-find form – this asks for details about your company, your pension scheme(s) and who you want to have access to AME
  2. Refer to our AME payroll field guidance notes to see exactly what information we’ll need about your employees, a CSV template example and for details of the format required.
  3. Get an extract file / report from your payroll (containing the information above in the correct format) and save it as a CSV file.
  4. Use the AME user guide to answer some of the questions you might have.

Not sure whether to provide non-contractual or pensionable earnings in your file extract / report? It depends on the definition of earnings you choose to use to calculate pension contributions. Find out more in our AME user guide

IMPORTANT: What to do after the session

When? About a month before your staging date

Now you understand how AME works, you need to make final preparations to use AME. After your session, we will send you an email with a link to AME with a temporary password. What you’ll need to do:

  1. Make sure you change your temporary password within ten days of receiving your invitation email.
  2. Use your completed AME fact find to help you set up your company

Step 4: Get to grips with our employer servicing zone

When? About a month before your staging date

During your installation session (see step 1, above), you may or may not decide you require further support on using our employer servicing zone.

If you need help, ask us and we’ll book a meeting – to be held either by phone or online – to answer any questions you may have.

In order to use the employer servicing zone, you’ll need certain pieces of information ready to upload details of employees you enrol and their contributions through our file transfer service. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Open these CSV template examples for joiners and payments respectively to see what information we’ll need about your employees. Please refer to our employer servicing zone guide for details of the formats required.
  2. Get extract files / reports from your payroll (containing the information we need) and save them as CSV files. If you’re using AME, only get a payment file extract / report and AME will give you a Joiners file when you enrol employees.

Useful documents

Stage 3: Go

Once you’ve completed the first two stages, it’s time to start performing your auto-enrolment duties.

Step 1: Perform your staging date duties

When? From your staging date

When your staging date arrives, you’ll have several tasks to perform:

  1. Get data from your payroll and HR systems First of all, you’ll need to extract some data from your payroll and HR systems. This data will need to be in the format required for your compliance software. You’ll need this information to help you assess your workforce, and to help with some of your other duties. If you’re using AME as your compliance software, here’s what to do:
    1. Get a fresh file extract / report to use with AME - you’ll have done the preparation for this when getting ready in step 3 of Stage 2
    2. Save your file extract / report as a CSV file*. You can either populate the example CSV template we’ve linked to, or copy the information into a fresh CSV file.
    *Please note: you don’t need to use the same headings (or put things in the same order) as we’ve used in the CSV template. We just need the information itself.
  2. Assess your employees Next, you’ll need to do a full assessment of your workforce. Once you’ve done this, you’ll know who to auto-enrol, who’s already in your scheme on a qualifying basis, and who can ask to join your scheme. If you’re using a postponement period, you’ll still need to assess your workforce on your staging date. That’s because you’ll need to send out regulatory communications to the different groups. You’ll need to assess them again when your postponement period ends. Using AME? Simply upload your employee data (using the CSV file you saved earlier in this step) and AME will automatically assess your employees in a matter of seconds. Once it’s done that, AME will tell you what actions are needed for each employee – and it will help you perform many of these actions.
    • Use the AME user guide to answer some of the questions you might have.
    Not using AME? If you’re not using AME, you’ll need to use another company’s compliance software or perform the assessment manually. For more information about assessing your workforce, read The Pensions Regulator’s guide
  3. Send out regulatory communications By law, you’ll need to write to all staff (except those aged under 16, or 75 and over) on or soon after your staging date.
    • You have to write to employees who aren’t already in your qualifying pension scheme within one month (six weeks from 1 April 2014) of your staging date. And you have to write to employees who are in your qualifying pension scheme within two months of your staging date.
    Exactly what you need to tell them – and when you need to do it – varies from situation to situation. For full details, read The Pensions Regulator’s guidance, below. If you’re using a postponement period, you may need to write to your employees before and after it. Using AME? AME’s ‘compliance check’ feature will tell you which employees you need to write to – and will also produce the emails or letters for you. You can even send the emails straight from the system.
    • Use the AME user guide to answer some of the questions you might have.
  4. Enrol new scheme members You have one month to do this (from 1 April 2014 this is extended to six weeks) from your staging date, or if you are using postponement, from the end of your postponement period. Using AME? AME’s ‘compliance check’ will tell you which employees need to be automatically enrolled (and into which pension scheme, if you have more than one). It will also produce a new joiner file, which you’ll need to download. Then send your downloaded joiners file to us through the file transfer service in the employer servicing zone Not using AME? After you’ve assessed your employees, you’ll need to send us a joiner file with details of all new scheme members (ie anyone who needs to be automatically enrolled, and anyone who’s asked to join your scheme). Here’s what to do:
    1. Get a fresh joiners file extract / report to use with the employer servicing zone - (you’ll have done the preparation for this in Stage 2 Step 4).
    2. Save your file extract / report as a CSV file. You can either populate this CSV template or copy the information into a fresh CSV file.
    3. Log into the employer servicing zone, click on ‘file transfer’ and follow the instructions on screen. See our employer servicing zone guide for more information.
    Give us the details of the employees you’ve enrolled as soon as possible after their enrolment date. Doing this will give your employees as much time as possible, before you deduct their first contributions, to decide if they want to remain in your scheme.
  5. Send us a payment file and make pension payments Using AME? AME’s ‘compliance check’ will tell you of any actions you need to take to be compliant and provide information to make any corrections in your payroll.
    • Use the AME user guide to answer some of the questions you might have.
    Now:
    1. Get a fresh payment file extract / report to use with the employer servicing zone (you’ll have done the preparation for this in Stage 2, Step 4).
    2. Save your file extract / report as a CSV. You can either populate this CSV template , or copy the information into a fresh CSV file.
    3. Log into the employer servicing zone click on ‘file transfer’ and follow the instructions on screen. See our employer servicing zone guide for more information.
    4. We’ll collect your pension scheme contributions by direct debit.
    Not using AME? If you’re not using AME, you will need to:
    1. Check to make sure the contributions you’re making meet the contribution certification basis you’ve chosen – using your own processes or the compliance software you’re using.
    2. Get a fresh payment file extract / report to use with the employer servicing zone - (you’ll have done the preparation for this in Stage 2, Step 4).
    3. Save your file extract / report as a CSV file you can either populate the CSV template we’ve linked to, or copy the information into a fresh CSV file.
    4. Log into the employer servicing zone, click on ‘file transfer’ and follow the instructions on screen. Our installation team will have talked you through how to do this already.
    5. We’ll collect your pension scheme contributions by direct debit.
    Remember you only have until the 22nd of the month following that in which you deduct payments from employees’ pay to make sure they are passed to us. Although regulations allow you longer for employees you newly enrol, we don’t currently operate this service.
  6. Process opt outs and refunds
    1. Once you’ve given us details of your new scheme members, we’ll send them their policy documents and details of how they can opt out of the scheme.
    2. We’ll email your scheme administrator whenever one or more employees opts out of your scheme. We hold copies of employees’ opt out notices (which are available on request).
    3. At your payroll run, you’ll need to update your payroll systems so they won’t take any more contributions from the employees who’ve opted out.
    4. Finally, you’ll need to refund any contributions an employee who has opted out has made. If the contributions were passed to us before the employee opted out, we’ll refund the contributions to you through direct credit.
    Using AME? AME will prompt you to update an employee’s details if they’ve opted out of your scheme. After three years, the system will also remind you that you need to re-enrol them (if they're eligible), as required by law.

Step 2: Keep records and register your scheme

When? From your staging date onwards

  1. Register with The Pensions Regulator You must register with The Pensions Regulator within four months (five months from 1 April 2014) of your staging date. To do this, you’ll need to provide details of the scheme you’re using, and how you’re complying with your duties. You can register online on The Pensions Regulator’s website, where you can also find details of what information you’ll need to provide. Register with The Pensions Regulator
  2. Keeping records It's crucial that you keep accurate information about your staff, their personal and address information, and details of the contributions that have been made on their behalf. Inaccurate records or missing data can have serious consequences, which can include staff being automatically enrolled at the wrong time, information about automatic enrolment not getting to the staff member, and the wrong amount being paid to your staff at retirement. It's down to you to ensure your records are correct and up-to-date. Because of this, by law, there are certain records you’ll need to keep about your employees and your pension scheme. The Pensions Regulator can ask to see these records for proof that you’re complying with your auto-enrolment duties. Using AME? AME keeps records of all the information you are required to hold, except the following:
    • The date contributions were passed to the pension scheme – Aviva holds this information on your behalf and can provide this information on request
    • The opt out notice (in its original format) – Aviva holds these on your behalf and can provide them on request.
    • Information about the Aviva pension scheme – Aviva gives this information to you when you agree the terms we offer.
    Not using AME? If you’re not using AME, you’ll need to keep your own records.

Step 3: Perform your ongoing duties

When? Each payroll period

Once your auto-enrolment pension scheme is up-and-running, there are a number of tasks you’ll need to keep on top of:

Tasks you’ll need to perform whenever you run your payroll:

  • Extract data from your HR and payroll systems and save as a CSV file
  • Use your extracted data to assess your workforce using your compliance software or manually.
  • Send out regulatory communications for the relevant employees

Please see step 1 for more details of how to perform these tasks.

Tasks you’ll need to perform each month:

  • Add new joiners by sending us a new joiner file.
  • Send us your payment file so we can allocate contributions to each member.
  • Tell us of employees who are changing their contributions - those who have chosen to reduce / stop contributions or have left employment. Do this through your payment file when you send us payment information.

Please see Stage 3, Step 1 for more details of how to perform these tasks.

  • Ensure you have sufficient funds available when we collect contributions by direct debit on your payment date.

Other on-going duties

  1. Three-yearly reviews Every three years, you’ll need to perform a review to assess any employees who’ve opted out of your scheme. If they’re eligible, you’ll need to re-enrol them into your scheme (they’ll need to opt out if they don’t want to be a scheme member). You’ll find more details about this on The Pensions Regulator’s website.
  2. Default investment option reviews Most members of your scheme are likely to stay in your default investment option. So it’s important to conduct regular reviews of this option, to make sure it remains fit for purpose One major plus of choosing an Aviva pension scheme is that we’ll perform these reviews for you, so you don’t need to worry about them. We’ll conduct the reviews every year (the Department for Work and Pensions recommends carrying them out at least every three years), and will look at:
    • whether the investment option is performing in line with its risk/return profile
    • whether the charges are appropriate
    • the performance of the funds involved.

Back to top