The Department for Work & Pensions has announced a change to the dates on which automatic enrolment will affect the UK's small employers.

The government has extended the timetable for automatic enrolment to give small businesses additional preparation time. This seeks to ensure that long-term pension issues are addressed, while meeting the short-and medium-term needs of small business.

The amendments mean that:

• Businesses with more than 3,000 staff can continue with their preparations unaffected, as their staging date (on or before 1 July 2013) remains unchanged.
• Business with 50-2,999 staff will be have a staging date between August 2013 and March 2015.  Early in 2012, the Government will confirm when.
• Businesses with 49 staff or fewer will now begin automatically enrolling their staff from May 2015, instead of the previous timing.

 The amendment to staging dates is designed to give small and micro employers longer to prepare and recover from the current difficult trading conditions.  The government remains committed to workplace pensions reform and implementing automatic enrolment, and will publish the revised staging schedule in the New Year.
 In terms of the timing of these reforms, the message from government is clear.  Automatic enrolment will:
• Start on time
• Include all employers
• Be finished no later than by the end of the next Parliament

The Pensions Regulator's work to support employers through automatic enrolment will continue, and extensive guidance and information is available for employers of all sizes and their advisers here.

To keep up-to-date with developments on these issues, including being alerted to the revised staging dates, you can subscribe to The Pensions Regulator's email news alerts for auto-enrolment here.