HR ยท 2 August 2016

Longthorne Gunmakers: ?I ignored auto-enrolment for a while, but knew we had to get on top of it?

The company is a great example of British heritage manufacturing, but is putting employees first with the workplace pensions scheme

Starting out as a tiny subsidiary of an engineering company based out of a Lancashire home in 2006, Longthorne Gunmakers has grown into one of the most recognised manufacturers of British shotguns.

Renowned for its classic designs and innovative technology, Longthorne became a limited company in 2010 and its products have since become the popular choice for some of Britain?s wealthiest and most influential figures. The Earl of Leicester and the Duke of Westminster are both recent customers, and demand remains high among the country?s business leaders and top company executives.

?The main difference to our guns is that we build a crucial part from steel, which is lighter and more durable,? explained Longthorne director Elaine Stewart. ?Most other shotguns contain barrels, which are far more rigid and perish faster. We?re very advanced in terms of shotgun manufacturing.?

As many manufacturers import parts from overseas or rebrand entire guns, Longthorne?s unique shotguns are made entirely in-house, and the orders are coming in thick and fast. The firm employs ten busy full-time staff, and it?s been important for Stewart to make sure that they are all aware of the imminent impact of auto-enrolment.

Stewart has prepared for auto-enrolment by already choosing a provider to ensure a smooth process and hopefully guarantee things go off without a hitch. His provider already does Longthorne?s payroll, so it made sense to Stewart to choose the firm when it offered an all-round package for auto-enrolment services.

The fact that it offered to come in to explain the initiative to staff one-on-one was crucial for Stewart. ?That?s such a key part of the process,? she said. ?Just telling staff face-to-face what they?re going to do and how they?ll be affected.?

Have a read of the comprehensive auto-enrolment digital guide put together by our sister title, RealBusiness.co.uk.

Without any payroll experience herself, and knowing very little about the auto-enrolment initiative, Stewart?s main concern when starting the process was compliance. With staff enquiring more and more frequently about the impact auto-enrolment would have, she felt relieved when her provider took over the responsibilities.

?I didn?t even know what a staging date was at first,? admitted Stewart. ?I was receiving all these letters with instructions and measures I couldn?t properly understand ? I ignored them for a while because we were busy but I knew I needed time to get on top of it.?

Wading through various jargon-led marketing campaigns from workplace pension providers to make sense of Longthorne?s options posed a challenge for Stewart, and she has welcomed clear and thorough advice from a consultant, for a ?500 fee.

Stewart explained she and the business have few difficulties so far, as the consultants recruited helped assess the workforce, identify a provider and ensure payroll systems were set up.

Longthorne has explained the scheme to staff and made back office preparations. With much to understand and make sense of about auto-enrolment, Stewart?s top tip to busy small business owners would be to invest in a consultant.

?Get someone to do it for you,? she emphasised. ?You receive all the facts and options in a clear way, and whilst the employer ultimately still has the compliance responsibilities, a consultant can take care of the necessary detail. It?s good value for money.?

Having put a proper plan for auto-enrolment in place, Stewart is now looking forward to getting back to growing the business with a team of Longthorne engineers that are fully up to speed with their pensions. ?I think it will make for a happier workforce,? she said. ?Many people haven?t been able to save, so this may help some people later in life.”

If, as a micro or small business owner, you’d like further guidance on auto-enrolment then visit The Pensions Regulator website, where you’ll also be able to discover your personal situation through its Duties Checker system.

Also, if you’ve enjoyed the story of how Longthorne Gunmakers is approaching auto-enrolment compliance and duties then have a look at our other two in-depth case studies ? Magic Whiteboard and Songbird Survival.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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