A new campaign aimed at educating small business owners about the need to enroll their staff into a workplace pension has been launched – by a furry character known as ‘Workie’.
The new character, which is to feature in a series of television and print adverts, is described by the Department of Work & Pensions and The Pensions Regulator as “a striking physical embodiment of the workplace pension”.
It is hoped Workie the monster will “change the country’s perception of pensions in the workplace” by appearing in a series of humorous adverts during which he meets a range of people in their workplaces and asks them not to ignore him.
The campaign is linked to the requirement by law for companies to enroll their staff into a workplace pension – known as automatic-enrolment (AE). It was introduced three years ago, initially covering only large and medium-sized businesses.
The new campaign – which comes with the hashtag #DontIgnoreIt – is aimed at the 1.8 million small businesses across the country that, during the next three years, must enroll their eligible staff into a pension scheme by law.
Workie was the brainchild of new pensions minister Ros Altmann, who was personally involved in designing the furry character.
Altmann said: “We have made great strides forward by automatically enrolling more than five million people into a workplace pension – now the challenge is to make sure hardworking people with every type of employer get to enjoy this major financial benefit.
“This is a fun and quirky campaign but behind it lies a very serious message. We need everyone to know they are entitled to a workplace pension – and we need all employers to understand their legal responsibility to their staff, but also to feel more positive about engaging with workplace pensions.”
Under AE, the minimum employers must contribute is 1% of an employee’s qualifying earnings, rising to 3% over time. Employees will also have to contribute a minimum of 1% of their qualifying earnings, eventually increasing to 5%. Staff are automatically-enrolled if they are not already in a scheme, are aged between 22 and State Pension age, earn more than £10,000 a year, and work in the UK.
Since 2012, more than 5.4 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by almost 61,000 employers and once all workplace employees are covered that is expected to rise to around 9 million workers.
Busy time for The Pensions Regulator
The Pensions Regulator is having a busy autumn as it shifts its focus away from working with larger firms to educating small and micro businesses.
As well as helping to launch the Workie campaign, it has also refreshed its website to include a new interactive step-by-step guide to help the small business community get to grips with AE.
Using simple language, the guide also employs videos, animation and infographics to help even the tiniest of employers (such as those with one or two employees) to understand their legal requirements under AE rules.
Altmann said: “I believe simplification is vital and The Pensions Regulator has made great strides in modernising its language and approach, to help employers. This new interactive step-by-step guide is an excellent initiative to help even the smallest employers fulfil their automatic enrolment duties and comply with the law.”
Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator, Lesley Titcomb, added: “Our website and the letters we send out to employers have been updated to ensure they have clear information that is relevant to them and helps them understand what they need to do, and when, to comply with the law.”