Auto enrolment staging dates explained

What is a “staging date”?

The date that your automatic enrolment duties will first come into effect is known as your ‘staging date’ – your staging date will have been determined by the size of your largest PAYE scheme as of April 2012. Businesses who employ larger numbers of people will have been the first companies to stage for auto-enrolment. New companies that have been created between April 2012 and September 2017 have had staging dates allocated to them, between May 2017 and February 2018. With effect from 1 October 2017, auto-enrolment duties of new companies will start as soon as their PAYE duties begin.

To be in line with auto-enrolment legislation, you will need to be able to enrol any eligible employees into a workplace pension scheme from your staging date going forwards.

When is my staging date?

You should have received a letter from The Pensions Regulator which tells you when your staging date will be. If you have more than one PAYE scheme, you will usually use the staging date of the company that stages first.

If you still need to find out your staging date, you can find out using your PAYE reference.

What is your PAYE reference number? (Example: 123 / AB45678)


If you do not know your PAYE reference, you should be able to find this:

  1. In the letter sent to you by HMRC when you first registered as an employer.
  2. Through your payroll software.

I don’t use a PAYE scheme. How do I know when my staging date will be?

If you’re an employer who doesn’t pay employees through a PAYE scheme, your staging date will be 1st April 2017.

Why are there different staging dates for different employers?

Staging dates allow auto-enrolment to be phased in gradually. By giving later staging dates to smaller employers, it means that companies who are less likely to already have a pension scheme in place have more time to prepare for auto-enrolment.

Can I change my staging date?

It’s important to remember that you can’t put a staging date back (although you can postpone some of your duties by up to three months). Find out if postponement’s right for you.

However, if you employed less than 50 people as of 1 April 2012, you may be able to move your staging date back if:

How much will it cost?

Do you want to know how much auto-enrolment will cost you and your work force? We’ll need you to provide a few key details.

Find out more and check our prices