One of the most challenging aspects of acting as a Court of Protection deputy looking after clients’ property and financial affairs can be taking on the role of employer when support or care workers are needed.
A recent change in the law has seen the government place an obligation upon employers to make pension provision for their employees.
Auto-enrolment is the biggest change to the UK pension system in more than 60 years and applies to every employer, no matter how large or small - even if there is just one employee - and regardless of the type of work. The changes are being phased in over the next couple of years but the rules are complex and potentially onerous due to their set up requirements and the ongoing obligations they impose.
The new law means that a Court of Protection deputy, as an employer, must automatically enroll support or care workers into a workplace pension scheme if they:
- Are between 22 years and the State Pension age
- Earn more than 10,000 a year
- Work in the UK
However, just because someone qualifies does not mean that they have to be part of the pension scheme. If a worker does not want to join the pension scheme, they can choose to formally opt out.
The deputy's duty continues beyond the initial enrolment process because employees that may not have qualified for auto-enrolment the first time, may qualify at a later date, if there are changes to the gross earnings threshold or the employee’s personal circumstances.
In addition, every three years the deputy will have to re-enrol any qualifying employee who is still working for them who has previously opted out.
If the deputy does not directly employ support or care workers but uses agency staff, the deputy will need to make sure that the agency has complied with auto-enrolment requirements. If they haven’t, the deputy may be required to do so.
Deputies are legally obliged to submit information to The Pensions Regulator to show how they have complied with all auto-enrolment requirements.
However, it is not just deputies that need to be aware of the implications of auto-enrolment. If there is an ongoing personal injury claim, litigation lawyers needs to be aware the administration and implementation costs associated with auto-enrolment may be significant and this needs to be taken into account when valuing the claim.