Personnel institute welcomes start of automatic workplace pension enrolment at larger firms but says employers still need help

The start of workers' automatic enrolment into workplace pension schemes at larger firms has been welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The move coincides with news that the number of employees enrolled on workplace pension schemes is at its lowest since records began.

The CIPD says although employers are increasingly aware of the shake-up to workplace pensions they still need advice on how to best implement the changes.

Institute members will be discussing the challenges, opportunities and lessons that can be learnt from auto-enrolment at their annual conference and exhibition next month.

Firms attending the event will be able to draw on advice on how to manage the reforms and cope with their effect on HR processes.

Last year a CIPD survey found the vast majority of employers were fully aware of the changes to workplace pension schemes. However, it also revealed that many firms were not prepared for them with less than a third knowing the date from which the new rules would apply to them.

And many larger employers were found to be confused about who would be leading preparations for auto-enrolment and looking at its cost implications.

Now, a year later, the latest CIPD survey report shows auto-enrolment has become more of a priority for employers. More employers are saying that pension costs have become a bigger issue over the past year and predict they will grow in importance over the next 12 months.

The CIPD's reward adviser Charles Cotton said automatic pension enrolment was the "biggest shake-up of workplace pensions for a generation".

He said though employers were becoming more aware of legal requirements they needed practical ideas and advice on how to best usher in the changes. Some firms may need advice on how to ensure their procedures were "fit for purpose" while others would benefit from tips on how to communicate the changes to their employees.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months Mr Cotton pointed out that automatic pension enrolment was just one of three big workplace reforms being introduced. He added: "The others are Real Time Information, which will change the way that pay is administered, and Universal Credit, which will have far reaching implications for the pool of available talent available to employers."