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Get ready for auto enrolment

It’s easy to start using NEST - you do it all online. But there are some things you’ll need to decide beforehand. You may also need to make changes to the way you run your payroll or other processes.

Once you’re up and running there are things you’ll need to do every time you pay your workers.

An illustration showing the tasks you'll need to complete to get up and running. Planning, decision making, set-up, worker assessment, enrolment and managing opt-outs and contributions.

Leave yourself plenty of time to prepare. We recommend starting six months before your staging date to give you enough time to complete each step, but depending on your organisation you may need more or less time.

Follow our six key steps to prepare

Put together a plan before your staging date. Take a look at your existing pension arrangements to see if they’ll meet the requirements of the new duties.

The date you need to comply with the new duties is known as your staging date. You can find out when your staging date is from The Pensions Regulator.
Find your staging date from The Pensions Regulator

You can put off automatically enrolling some or all of your staff by up to three months if you need to. You’ll have to contact The Pensions Regulator to let them know.
The Pensions Regulator’s guidance on postponement

NEST is open to all employers and can work alongside or replace your current arrangements.

Now is also the time to talk to your payroll supplier, accountant or financial adviser and see if they can help.

You’ll need to make some decisions about how you want to manage your scheme, such as:

  • what you’ll pay into your workers’ pots – see more about contributions
  • when you’re going to set up your scheme, and if you want to use a waiting period
  • how you’re going to set up and use your scheme, and if you want someone to do this for you

You may want to ask your payroll supplier, accountant, financial adviser or bookkeeper if they can:

  • assess your workers for you
  • use NEST’s web services to seamlessly send data to NEST
  • create statutory communications
  • help you set up your scheme or run the scheme for you

Now it’s the time to make any necessary changes to your in-house business processes or systems to meet the new duties. Check to make sure you have:

  • a process in place to assess your workforce
  • communications ready to give to your workers
  • a way to collect accurate information about your workers, including their National Insurance number and full home address
  • payroll and data processes that are compatible with NEST’s data formats
  • training for the people who’ll manage NEST for you
  • a way to keep records of certain events from your pension scheme

You’re required by law to let your workers know about their new pension rights. You also need to tell them if you plan on using a waiting period before you start auto enrolment.

We’ve prepared communications guidelines to help you with this. It includes template letters with all the information you have to give your workers. There are also decision trees to help you work out which information you need to give each worker.

Check NEST’s communication guidelines and templates

You’ll need to set up your account so it’s ready when your staging date arrives.

Our handy form Information you need to set up NEST (PDF) helps you gather everything together in one place before you get started.

You can start setting up NEST online at any time.

Remember, you haven’t completed the online set-up process until you’ve clicked ‘Done’. We’ll send you a confirmation email when you’re up and running.

Check you’ve got everything you need and test your systems to see if they’re working properly. It’s important to be ready to send contributions before your duties apply and avoid late payments.

If you are sending files directly to NEST and not through your payroll software you can save time by using the NEST file tester to make sure your files are compatible before you send them to us.

NEST's online help centre

Help is at hand if you need it. Setting up NEST correctly now will cut down on administration in the long term. Our help centre has a dedicated page on how to set up NEST with links to how-to guides, articles and FAQs. Our Employers’ guide to automatic enrolment and NEST (PDF) will help you understand your duties and what you need to do to prepare.

Getting help from someone else

NEST makes it easy to get help. You can hand over some or all of the tasks involved with setting up and managing NEST to someone else in your organisation or a third-party provider using NEST Connect.