The tech review is back! This week, the lang cat's Mark Polson takes a look at the new auto-enrolment module from You at Work.
Hello, back again. It’s been a while, how’ve you been? Yes, I know. I know. Really? That does sound nasty. Sorry I asked.
Anyway, the tech review is back and we’re being all zeitgeisty and looking at auto-enrolment systems.
Auto-enrolment legislation has placed a burden on all UK employers to ensure that their workforce, where eligible, is enrolled into qualifying pension schemes. So far, only the largest UK schemes have been implemented but, with the next 12 months set to sweep approximately 40,000 employers up in the new rules, demand for guidance will reach a peak.
Putting the ‘auto’ into auto-enrolment
It is no surprise, therefore, to find that employee benefits tech wallah You at Work has extended its current plusyou portal to include an auto-enrolment module, named +co-pension.
According to its marketing shtick, said tool “makes light work of assessing your workforce and communicating the relevant documentation and staff options available to each category of worker, and keeps you compliant with your responsibilities every pay period”.
Yeah, yeah. Let’s check it out for ourselves.
First things first, You at Work is aimed at SMEs and, as such, is right in the heartland of advisers who may be looking for an alternative to the tied-cottage systems offered by many pension providers.
We’re mainly interested in how this might be relevant to advisers, so let’s get to it.
Logging in and selecting one of the sample test companies, we’re met with a nice, clean interface, with the centrepiece being a 1-2-3 modular approach to auto-enrol your workforce. We’ll look at each module in turn.
Our first challenge is to upload employees. Upon selecting the handily-titled ‘upload employees’ section, the user gets guidance on how to go about getting their staff data onto the site.
There is a PDF guide to clear up any confusion and the downloadable skeleton CSV file is a nice additional touch. I’m mindful of the fact that HR departments keep employee data in their own format, so it is always good to see a data mapping tool that converts their format into You at Work’s.
I tried uploading a few sample employees, including deliberately messing it up, and the end-to-end process couldn’t have been easier, with clear instructions dealing with any mistakes.
Our next job is to set up our pension scheme(s). Again, the interface leads the user through this nicely and inputting scheme details and contribution structures is simple. Also straightforward is the process of allocating staff members to schemes, which will prove useful where more than one plan exists.
Lastly, we have the not-insignificant job of assessing our workforce for auto-enrolment eligibility. Now, I’m not here to discuss the legislation but I do know that this task – given the myriad of rules – is a tricky one.
I certainly wouldn’t want to do it by hand. With that in mind, I wanted to put the tool properly to the test here, so I used a 400-employee data set already on the site.
I was pleased to see the tool eat the data and spit it back out again within a fraction of a second, splitting the employees into their respective categories: eligible jobholders, non-eligible jobholders, entitled workers and uncategorised. Following this, there is the option to export to either PDF or Excel.
A further gimcrack allows the user to send assessed workers a pre-enrolment assessment email or letter.
Now that we’ve gone through the process of setting up and assessing the workforce, the last thing to check out is the range of communication and reporting material available. There is a wide range here. From daily reports on employee activity and contribution audits to month-end payroll and opt-out information, everything needed to keep employers compliant is here.
Helping employers comply
If we have one general criticism, it is that the user interface isn’t quite as refined as other tools we’ve looked at in this column previously. That said, we are mindful of two things.
One is that the version we looked at was a test site and we’re sure that the full version will look a bit nicer and can be co-branded with employer imagery and the like.
Secondly, we acknowledge that the core purpose of a tool such as this is not about fancy functionality. Right now it is all about helping employers comply with auto-enrolment legislation with the minimum of fuss. In that respect, You at Work has delivered a worthwhile piece of kit.
So, should advisers use it? There is value in this system and it’s certainly worth watching. It’s cheaper than the large systems everyone knows and so shouldn’t frighten the HR horses in terms of adviser fees.
As with anything like this, check it out, make sure you can work with it and think carefully first. But if you’re in the SME auto-enrolment business (and if not you’re probably missing a trick), then You at Work is worth a look.
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