Even more worryingly, 27% of the businesses, which were a mix of sizes, said that they were not aware of their staging date and had made no preparations at all.
Another 17% knew their staging date but still had done nothing about it.
ICAEW technical manager John Gaskell laid some of the blame on government and regulators. “Not enough has been done to help UK plc plan and implement an auto enrolment scheme,” he said, “and it is certainly not a surprise that only 18% of the businesses questioned are prepared to introduce auto enrolment.”
“In particular, SMEs continue to bear a disproportionate burden from executing an auto enrolment scheme because they are starting from scratch and will have fewer resources over which to spread the additional workload. With this in mind, preparation is vital.”
"ICAEW head of business Simon Alsop pointed to another of the survey’s findings, that 54% of organisations that were already auto-enrolled thought it had had a beneficial effect on their business. “Auto enrolment is a great benefit and businesses will want to do the right thing for their employees.
“Scheme selection is the most problematic area, and there is currently no formal guidance. Regulators and providers should ensure a minimum set of standards for pension schemes and payroll software is set, to ensure compliance and consistency.”
Staging dates were set in law on 1 April 2012 and will depend on the size of the employer’s PAYE scheme based on the number of people within that scheme. Companies can find out when theirs is via the pensions regulator’s website.