HOPS auto-enrolment pension scheme now has 3,000 seasonal staff signed up

Growers and farmers facing new workplace pension rules are now rushing to sign up staff to an enrolment scheme for fear of being hit by fines for missing deadlines, says a leading provider.

HOPS, the land-based recruitment and labour supplier, has seen a big uptake to its auto-enrolment scheme in the last six months after a slow start to the scheme, launched in 2014.

The company was disappointed with a slow uptake initially, but the HOPS Mastertrust auto-enrolment pension scheme now has 3,000 seasonal workers.

Recent pension changes mean millions of workers across sectors are automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. Employers must enrol workers or face penalties for non-compliance.

Every employer has a date from when the automatic enrolment duties come into force for their business, called a 'staging date'. Automatic enrolment is being staged over six years, from 2012.

"We expected it to be more successful to start with," said HOPS' director John Hardman. "But interest has picked up because people are starting to get threatening letters to enrol staff.

"Farmers have been complacent about the changes thinking they wouldn't have to do anything, it would all just happen. But they need to get staging in place."

The HOPS Mastertrust auto-enrolment pension scheme was developed with pension advisors in 2014 together with financial planner Edgar Brooks & Co.

"Feedback from growers showed there was a lack of industry products available, particularly for seasonal workers, although the scheme also encompasses full-time employees," he said.

"Interest is escalating after the latest tranche of staging dates - when companies must get their house in order - given to small and medium-sized businesses by the government in the last two weeks.

"If they miss the staging date and don't enrol in time they leave themselves open to draconian penalties set out by the pensions regulator. These can be £200 a day."

All current HOPS registered member farms will be given the opportunity to utilise this pension scheme for their seasonal and full-time staff.

Other organisations, such as the National Farmers' Union and NEST, run similar schemes. HOPS is owned by the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs


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