Our series of blog posts on making auto-enrolment a success for your payroll bureau clients draw upon Carval's extensive experience as both an outsourced payroll provider and also a payroll software developer. Payroll bureaus and accountants will play a key role in the AE process as the UK's SMEs reach their staging dates between now and 2017.Before auto-enrolment went live, Carval, along with other UK payroll software providers, requested that pension providers get together and agree on a standard data template. While we’re a few steps closer to this via the efforts of PAPDIS, currently those running client payrolls are stuck with having to provide data in different formats for different pension providers.
Here we provide some tips on how to prepare yourself for this hurdle...
1) Get a detailed specification from each pension provider
Each of your client's pension providers will have a detailed specification as to how they need to receive information regarding pension contributions. This will include:
- the file format
- the headings
- the date format
- naming conventions and more.
We would recommend that your client gets this information directly from their pension provider rather than from an intermediary. Providers do change their specifications from time-to-time and third parties are not always kept in the loop.
2) Clarify the pensions provider’s definition for each data item
It’s important to clarify the detail for each data item.You might have a field that says salary, does that mean Annual salary, pay period salary, pensionable salary? If the employee is part time, they might want the FTE salary.
In fact, the definition of Salary is one of the main issues to look out for when correctly supplying data. For many payroll people salary is salary, often what the pension provider means, is Salary paid that period as well as arrears or back pay, statutory payments, company sick pay/maternity pay.
Do not leave anything open to interpretation! Getting the correct information first time will save time and effort in the long run - you don’t want to have to redesign the data extract.
3) Allow yourself plenty of time for set-up
You should allow plenty of time for set-up. The back and forth with test files between yourselves – Customer – pensions provider and/or intermediary will undoubtedly take longer than you expect.
4) Does your payroll bureau software deal with the different data formats required by the various pension providers?
Things to consider are:
- Do you have to go to your client payroll software provider every time you need to create a new template or make a change to an existing one? Are there cost implications surrounding this?
- What if the specification changes? Because either you’ve got it wrong or the client requires a change.
- Make sure when providing the client with a quote for the setup and processing of AE that you cover these things so you’re not left footing the bill.
Some payroll bureau software, like Carval Uniwage, has a tool that you can use to create your own data templates. In the early days of auto-enrolment Pension Providers kept changing their minds regarding the data required, so Carval developed a tool to enable our clients to create the templates themselves. This means they don't have to come back to Carval to change the template each time.