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What is your client's staging date?

Your client's staging date is the date their automatic enrolment duties come into effect for them.

How is the staging date determined?

An employer's staging date is determined by the number of people in the largest PAYE scheme that they use, based on the data from HM Revenue and Customs held by us on 1 April 2012. An employer’s staging date is set in law and is the date their automatic enrolment duties apply to them. They must be prepared for this date.

Your client can decide to bring their staging date forward to align it with other business practices, such as the start of their financial year. Read about bringing a staging date forward.

How will I check my client's staging date?

You can check your client's staging date by entering the PAYE references that were in use on 1 April 2012 into the employer’s staging date tool. Your client's staging date will be the earliest date.

PAYE references are found on your client's letter they received from us about automatic enrolment. They can also be found on the letter from HMRC when they first registered as an employer, or from their payroll software.

There are some circumstances where entering your client’s PAYE reference into the tool won’t necessarily provide their staging date:

  • Your client has brought forward their staging date and agreed this with us. If they’ve notified us that they intend to bring their staging date forward, these changes won’t be reflected in the dates returned by the tool.
  • Your client has set up in business after 1 April 2012. If this applies, you can find their staging date in table 1 below.
  • Since 1 April 2012 your client has changed or acquired a new PAYE reference. You will need to enter the old PAYE reference(s). If your client is a new employer entity, refer to the bullet point above.
  • Your client has certain types of staff but doesn’t have a PAYE scheme. In this case their staging date will be 1 April 2017.
  • Your client had fewer than 30 staff on 1 April 2012, had no staging date associated with their PAYE reference and they don’t fall into any other exception category. In this case their staging date will be 1 April 2017.

We will also write to all employers to confirm their staging date and it’s included in letters from us about automatic enrolment duties. If they don’t pay their staff through a PAYE scheme, their staging date will be 1 April 2017.

What if my client is a new employer?

New employers paying PAYE income for the first time (or using HMRC’s PAYE for the first time) from 1 April 2012 to 30 September 2017 will have a staging date between 1 May 2017 and 1 February 2018.

Table 1: staging dates for employers who set up after 1 April 2012

Date PAYE income first payable Staging date
Between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013 1 May 2017
Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014 1 July 2017
Between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015 1 August 2017
Between 1 April 2015 and 31 December 2015 1 October 2017
Between 1 January 2016 and 30 September 2016 1 November 2017
Between 1 October 2016 and 30 June 2017 1 January 2018
Between 1 July 2017 and 30 September 2017 1 February 2018

Advanced guidance

These resources may help if you have more detailed questions on the above:

  • Detailed guidance 2: Getting ready (PDF, 140kb, 37 pages)
    Section 2 contains detailed information on identifying staging dates, including how they are determined for those employers with small businesses who share a larger PAYE scheme with other employers. It also explains how staging dates are determined for employers with complex PAYE structures, or who belong to corporate groups.
  • Detailed guidance 8: Safeguarding individuals (PDF, 104kb, 17 pages)
    Read this guidance to support your clients in meeting their employer duties and safeguards which include stopping membership of qualifying schemes and unfair treatment of staff.
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