Cre­ative busi­ness con­sul­tant Zena Bruges ex­plains why you shouldn’t be re­tir­ing about re­tire­ment

Computer Arts - - Meet The Team -

You and your team are young, cre­ative and care­free; the last thing you want to think about is pen­sions. This, how­ever, would be a mis­take – as you could end up break­ing the law.

Since the Pen­sions Act 2008 came into ef­fect in 2012, ev­ery UK em­ployer is re­quired to put cer­tain em­ploy­ees into a pen­sion scheme and make a con­tri­bu­tion, a process called Auto-En­rol­ment. Big em­ploy­ers with thou­sands of staff had to act im­me­di­ately, but smaller em­ploy­ers such as 99 per cent of Bri­tish busi­nesses, and there­fore most de­sign stu­dios, were given at least two years be­fore hav­ing to in­tro­duce it. So nat­u­rally, with many more in­ter­est­ing things to do that seemed more ur­gent, most peo­ple for­got all about it.

Now, how­ever, the dead­line for firms with 30 em­ploy­ees or fewer to en­rol in a qual­i­fied pen­sions scheme is fast ap­proach­ing. There’s no need to panic quite yet, how­ever, as it’s a staged process which be­gan back in 2015 and will end in April 2017.

The first thing to do is dig out your PAYE ref­er­ence num­ber and go to the Pen­sions Reg­u­la­tor web­site (www.bit.ly/pen­sion­s_stag­ing) to check your com­pany’s stag­ing date. Chances are it hasn’t come yet, and even if you’ve missed it all is not lost – if you no­tify the Pen­sions Reg­u­la­tor im­me­di­ately, they’ll ex­plain what you need to do to catch up.

Once you know the date, you need to fig­ure out what the dam­age is so you can bud­get for the ex­tra cost to your busi­ness. As it stands, Em­ployer Con­tri­bu­tion rates are set at one per cent of earn­ings un­til 6 April 2018, two per cent un­til April 2019, and rise to three per cent after that.

So how do you get started? There are two op­tions for set­ting up a qual­i­fy­ing auto-en­rol­ment pen­sion scheme. The first is to use NEST, the Na­tional Em­ploy­ment Sav­ings Trust set up by the gov­ern­ment specif­i­cally to help the process of auto en­rol­ment. NEST can man­age the monthly pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions for both em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees, and while it may not be as slick as some pri­vate sys­tems, it works and – even bet­ter – it’s free to use.

Your sec­ond op­tion is to go pri­vate. If you al­ready have a work­place pen­sion plan in place, your provider can adapt it to suit the new au­toen­rol­ment re­quire­ments. But if you don’t have one set up yet, rest as­sured that all of the main pen­sion providers are cur­rently bit­ing em­ploy­ers’ hands off to be able to guide them through the whole process – al­beit at a price, of course.

Worry lines can be dread­fully aging, so hope­fully this quick guide has taken some of the stress out of set­ting up a pen­sion plan for your stu­dio – or at least re­minded you that it needs to be done. With fines of up to £10,000 for those who do noth­ing, it’s some­thing that needs look­ing into.

What other chal­lenges have you faced when set­ting up your stu­dio? Tweet your thoughts to @ComputerArts us­ing #De­signMat­ters

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