Pensions for carers – a fuller picture

If you have taken on a personal carer, recent ‘snippets’ in the news about potentially having to provide them with a workplace pension from June 2015 may have left you confused and anxious

However, as with anything, it is important to have the complete picture. Here we provide some more information about your obligations under the ‘auto-enrolment’ programme – to help you fully understand the position.

If you have taken on a carer or ‘personal assistant’, either using your own money or money from the Government, you are likely to be classed as their employer. HMRC often refer to people who take on carers to help with their personal needs as ‘care and support employers’.

From June 2015, small employers such as care and support employers will gradually be obliged to offer their eligible employees a pension (and contribute into it), under the auto-enrolment programme. This includes someone that you may have taken on to provide you with personal care – aged between 22 and state pension age who earns more than £10,000 – even if they are your only employee.

However – the key word here is gradually – not every single care and support employer will have auto enrolment to contend with from June 2015. In fact, only care and support employers who were up and running before April 2012 will be affected from this date – and even then, June 2015 is only the start date of a long period in which your ‘staging date’ may fall (i.e. the date that your auto enrolment duties will actually come into force).

Furthermore, new employers starting on or after 1 April 2012 will not have staging dates until at least 1 May 2017. However, even if your staging date is still some way off, you should not leave everything to the last minute. Ideally, you should allow several months to get ready for the introduction of auto enrolment, as some of the tasks that you will need to undertake, such as setting up a pension scheme, will take you some time.

Your exact staging date will be based on your PAYE reference and the Pensions Regulator has a tool to help you work it out from this (an example of a PAYE reference is 913/WZ5121A – this will have been issued to you when you registered as an employer with HMRC). Once you are clear on your exact staging date, there is lots of step-by-step information on the Pensions Regulator website to help you begin your auto enrolment preparations and which will enable you to work out what you need to do and when. They have also issued some specific guidance about auto enrolment for people who employ their own care and support including:

In addition, you can find a plain and simple factsheet which covers the basics of auto enrolment for care and support employers here, along with a detailed dedicated section which explains some of the more intricate aspects of auto enrolment, such as what to do where your carer earns less than £10,000, here.

We are also currently offering help and guidance to website users on queries related to taking on a personal assistant (which could certainly include auto enrolment!) through our pilot email help service.