The Government has drawn up plans to apply an “emergency pause” to the rollout of auto-enrolment to small and micro firms.
Ahead of a rapid increase in the number of firms hitting deadlines to enroll staff in schemes, the Department for Work and Pensions has plans in place to halt the programme if necessary, the Telegraph reports.
Earlier this month the National Audit Office published a report into workplace pensions which revealed there is a procedure in place to delay auto-enrolment “as a last resort” if the programme “was unable to cope”.
It adds: “The Department, The Pensions Regulator and Nest are continuing to develop the range of responses they might introduce if demand rises.”
TPR has had to use its compliance powers more frequently as the number of employers hitting their staging dates has grown.
Around 1.8m of the UK’s smallest and less resourced firms still have not begun enrolling staff in workplace schemes. Under current timescales the programme will be fully rolled out by 2018.
However, the NAO report also says the success of auto-enrolment is “exceeding many of the Department’s and The Pensions Regulator’s assumptions”.
It adds: “This is a positive sign that assumptions have been developed with a degree of challenge and caution.”
A DWP spokeswoman says: “As the NAO themselves have said, the rollout of automatic enrolment has been highly successful. The rollout is continuing as planned.”
The ability to apply an emergency pause was made available through the 2008 Pensions Act.