Automatic enrolment provider NOW: Pensions has introduced an employer service charge of up to £40 a month from next year.
Existing NOW: Pensions customers will not be affected by the charge even if they are staging in or after 2016.
At the same time the workplace pensions provider is launching a month-long consultation aimed at finding out the needs of small employers and will use feedback from the consultation to set the new fees.
The new proposition is likely to include online support such as screen share and live chat, longer contact centre opening hours and a named individual to support employers.
Concern continues to grow that those firms yet to stage will have to turn to the government-backed NEST scheme as other providers struggle to make money out of smaller firms.
NEST is not currently planning to introduce a similar fee although it already charges the employee 1.8% up front.
According TPR figures, of the 1.8m employers yet to stage from now until 2018, two thirds employ between one and four workers while 16% employ between five and nine workers and 17% employ between 10 and 49 workers.
More than 500,000 firms will stage in 2016 alone.
When it comes to selecting a provider for AE one in four employers intend to seek help from their accountant.
The NOW: Pensions consultation runs from 17 September until 29 October and the outcome will be published before the end of the year.
Now that NOW: Pensions has broken ranks, will People’s Pension follow suit?
AccountingWEB has launched the No-one gets left behind campaign to alert as many accountants as possible to the obligations implied by auto enrolment. Read our simple eight-point statement which sets out the auto enrolment facts you need to know.