By 8 October this year companies with five or more employees must provide access to one of the new Stakeholder pensions.
Companies already providing and contributing to occupational pensions available to all their employers do not have to make a change. For everyone else - and that is 71% of businesses, according to Prudential - the new arrangements apply.
There had been a general belief that the October deadline would be extended because not enough companies had made arrangements to make Stakeholder pensions available. But that deadline was already an extension from April, when the scheme was introduced, and it does not now look as if it will be extended again. Instead, the incentive to comply will be fines of up to £50,000 for firms that do not.
Employers do not have to contribute to Stakeholder pensions, but they do have to help out by, for example, deducting sums nominated by employees from pay packets and paying them into the pension.
Employees do not have to use the Stakeholder pension made available to them by their employer but even if no employee wants to use it, the company must still make it available.