NEST set to launch online payroll tool to simplify auto enrolment for SMEs

As staging dates for auto enrolment (AE) for SMEs ramp up, AE pension provider NEST plans to launch an online service to support SMEs, allowing employers to manage their NEST account through their payroll software.

Due to go live in winter 2015, ahead of over half a million SMEs staging in 2016, NEST Web Services enables payroll software to interrogate NEST and update information in real time. The new tool means that any payroll software user can exchange information using a common interface, if it has compatible software.

NEST has been working with payroll software providers Iris, Moneysoft, QTAC and Sage, and has developed a channel that allows seamless data flow from payroll software to NEST.  

Helen Dean, executive director of product and marketing at NEST, says: ‘NEST Web Services revolutionises auto enrolment for employers by automating their administration and integrating it with payroll systems.

‘We listened to payroll software developers and understand that the payroll process, whether managed by the employer or their adviser, is crucial to auto enrolment’s continued success. It holds all the vital information for worker assessments and contributions. Rather than duplicate work for employers, we have integrated the two processes, reducing time and complexity.’

‘NEST has been set up to support the roll-out of auto enrolment and to be ready to work at scale. NEST Web Services is a part of helping ensure we are ready for the next stages. With thousands of SMEs being brought into auto enrolment in the coming years, we need to make sure that the industry continues to innovate in order to help employers meet their duties.’

Features of the new web service include the following:

1.            Set up a new employer

Other than accepting NEST’s terms and conditions and setting up payment data, all other parts of the set-up process can be completed automatically through the payroll system.

2.            Retrieve current set-up details

Retrieves employer set-up data to ensure that data in NEST and the payroll software match.

3.            Enrol workers

Sends all worker enrolment data direct to NEST via payroll software.

 4.           Update contributions

Sends NEST the earnings and contribution details for a particular contribution schedule. It will also be used to notify NEST where there won’t be contributions.

5.            Approve for payment

Sends NEST an employer’s confirmation that payment of a contribution schedule for an agreed amount will be made by the employer (Direct Credit or Debit Card) or can be collected by NEST (Direct Debit).

6.            Retrieve schedules

Retrieves a list of due and overdue contribution schedules, and their current status, from NEST.

7.            Retrieve opt-outs

Retrieves a list of members who have opted out within a selected date range from NEST.

8.            Retrieve stopped contributions

Retrieves a list of members who have instructed NEST they wish to stop contributing, within a selected date range.

9.            Retrieve refunds.

Retrieves a list of refunds made to an employer’s refund bank account from NEST.

There will also be a testing platform for payroll software providers to use, free of charge.

Karen Thomson, associate director of policy, research, and strategic visibility at CIPP said: ‘This service will provide a much easier route for information to flow from payroll systems to NEST where the payroll and automatic enrolment service is provided by a payroll service provider, eg, an accountant or payroll bureau.’

NEST, set up as part of the government's pension reforms, is a national defined contribution workplace pension scheme available to all employers. It has over 2.1m members and over 19,000 employers use NEST to operate auto enrolment pensions.

To find out your staging date, go to The Pensions Regulator website and enter your PAYE reference number here

Further information on the NEST Web Services is available here

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