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The Carval HR Software Blog

Client payroll: tips on working with auto-enrolment intermediaries

Posted by Emma Clare

01/07/15 10:00

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 bureau 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. 

Good payroll software often provides the tools to carry out the auto-enrolment assessment process or pension providers may offer this service, however your clients may also choose to use a third party to either assess the employees and or deal with employee communication. Experience has shown us that this can be a potentially problematic area.

Read on for some tips on working with auto-enrolment intermediaries and third parties.

1) Be aware of inadvertent miscommunication

Be wary of liaising directly with the third party and ensure that the Client is included in all email correspondence, and is included or updated after all phone conversations between yourself and the third party. That way there is no miscommunication surrounding responsibilities, data requirements and deadlines.

2) Ensure data requirements come directly from the 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. 

(READ: 4 tips for getting auto-enrolment data exracts right >>)

3) Account for payroll time delays if a third party is running assessments


If a Client wants the third party to assess the employees, you may have to adjust the Clients Payroll processing timetable, as it can take several days for the assessment to take place and for the relevant data to be returned to you. In the Carval Bureau, where we use our own payroll bureau software, we insist on assessing the employees ourselves but will also send the data to the third party. Any anomalies are usually looked at after the payroll processing cycle as often the payroll has already been finalised before the Third Party has reviewed the data.


Weekly payrolls can pose a particular problem if you’re not doing the assessment. The turnaround on a weekly payroll is tight as it is, so to add a third party into the mix can make it almost unworkable. There are obviously some pension providers that are an exception to this where you can get live results, you import the data onto a website and get an immediate return on it.

READ: Client payroll: How to make auto-enrolment a success for your bureau

Download an info pack on Carval's payroll bureau software now >>

Topics: Outsourced Payroll

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