Your obligation to set up and maintain a workplace pension scheme has been brought about by the auto-enrolment regulations imposed by the Pensions Act 2008. These regulations impose the obligation on every business that employs one employee or more, even if they are a part-time employee. There are absolutely no exceptions.
The regulations were implemented from 2012 with the intention of ensuring the enrolment of 1.8 million business schemes by October 2018. Every business will have its own individual staging date, with such a date being based on the number of employees that you have and the age of your business.
We have now reached the staging period for businesses of one to 49 employees, who will stage over the coming years. While this may mean a delay for some businesses, it should not be relied upon as an opportunity to put off what you need to prepare for now.
Indeed, the pension regulator, through its website, is suggesting that a business should start preparing to set up at least 12, if not 18, months prior to their staging dates. This ensures that the expected 'capacity crunch' of applications does not result in a delay in your process, causing you to pay numerous fines.
The pension regulator has made it very clear that it is their intention to rigorously pursue enforcement proceedings against any business owner who fails to 'stage' on time, with fines being issued and pursued as we speak.