I HAVE previously covered this subject in detail within this column, but just to recap on the basics, from 2012 onwards all employers with workers in the UK will need to automatically enrol eligible employees into a pension scheme and make contributions on their behalf.

Whilst the reforms will take effect from October 1, 2012, the start of compliance with the reforms will be staggered across a period of four years according to company size.

The date from which the new duties apply to an employer is known as the staging date and for some employers, that staging date will come round very quickly.

So, how do employers begin to prepare for this?

First of all, they need to know when they need to act and that means working out when their staging date is.

This information can be obtained by going to The Pensions Regulator website and that should be the starting point for any business in order to ascertain how long they have to prepare.

Depending upon when the employer’s staging date falls, they then need to look towards the pension arrangements that they have in place already.

All existing pension schemes are likely to need changes in order to comply with the requirements of the new regime and if an employer already has a scheme in place, how much will it need to be changed?

Will the existing pension provider be able to make the changes or will a new pension scheme need to be set up?

If an employer doesn’t already have a pension scheme in place, this raises further questions.

For example, do they wish to begin looking at their options sooner rather than later, or should they wait until they are actually affected by the reforms?

Will they set up a pension scheme privately or will they use the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) which is the new Government backed pension scheme open to all employers from October 1, 2012?

Whilst some employers may perceive the NEST route as being an easy option, it might not be the best route in all cases and employers should make sure that they understand the differences between the private route and the NEST route before deciding how to proceed.

Whilst the content of this column is deliberately brief, there is a lot to think about and even if the employer’s staging date isn’t imminent, they should still be aware of the details of the reforms in order that their future business planning can take these into account.

Employers may therefore wish to engage with their financial advisers at the earliest opportunity.