Brought to you by
PensionSync logo
PensionSync is the UK’s only one-stop shop for payroll-to-pension administration, working alongside...
Share this content

Why isn’t there a standard process for pensions?

16th Dec 2021
Brought to you by
PensionSync logo
PensionSync is the UK’s only one-stop shop for payroll-to-pension administration, working alongside...
Share this content

If you have clients using a range of workplace pension providers, you will know that processes vary by provider. Why can’t they all be the same? 

For example: 

  • Nest requires 3 distinct actions per pension run: enrolments, contributions and payment approval. Each of these have their own bespoke file formats or manual actions in the Nest website. 
  • The People’s Pension accepts a bespoke “full file” that covers enrolments and contributions in a single bespoke format, and payment approval can be automated or manual at the discretion of the administrator. 
  • Smart Pension accepts a “PAPDIS” file, which covers enrolments and contributions and is theoretically an industry standard file format. Payment approval is automated on a set date each month.  

The 3 pension providers mentioned above have become the UK’s largest workplace pension providers by volume since the introduction of Automatic Enrolment legislation in 2012, so chances are that a large majority of your clients will be using these providers. 

When we talk to payroll professionals, there is often one provider’s process that they really don’t like - and it’s not always the same one! In truth, it’s the difference between the processes that is the real problem. If you’re used to Nest’s process, it makes sense that Smart’s process will be jarring for you, and vice versa. 

 So why can’t they all be the same? 

What is PAPDIS and why isn't it widely adopted?

PAPDIS stands for Payroll and Pension Data Interface Standard. It is a file format that covers all the requirements of all the pension providers, and it was created so that payroll would only need to be able to produce one file to manage workplace pensions across the board. 

As mentioned above, Smart Pension accepts data in PAPDIS format. Unfortunately, it was never mandated in the legislation that pension providers had to adopt a single data standard and most other pension providers decided for a variety of reasons to create their own file formats. Nest have their multiple file formats and People’s Pension have theirs: the vast majority of all workplace pension providers require a file format that is totally bespoke to their own platform.

For payroll professionals, this means having to be able to manage multiple processes depending on which pension providers your clients choose to use.  

Is there a way to standardise my pension process?

Thankfully, yes. PensionSync accepts PAPDIS data, and converts it to the pension providers’ various bespoke formats for you. PensionSync checks that the data is in good order, auto-fixes a bunch of common payroll-to-pension data errors, converts it and delivers it to the pension provider for you. In the case of Nest, where 3 steps are required in the process, PensionSync queues up the processes and manages them one by one for you: enrolments first, then contributions, then payment approval.

In other words, PensionSync gives you a standard process in which all you need to do is upload one file. This works for Nest, The People’s Pension, Smart Pension, Aviva, NOW:Pensions and Legal & General, with plans to add more pension providers in future.

The file upload can be done in one of two ways: either through an API payroll integration, or through our Flexible File Upload tool. 

Most payroll softwares can produce a PAPDIS file, although some of them produce the files in slightly different ways - PensionSync’s flexibility enables any of these files to be accepted. Even if your software doesn’t produce PAPDIS files, PensionSync accepts any file you can produce that contains at least the minimum required data - as long as it has recognisable, unambiguous column headers the file will be accepted. 

In the new year, PensionSync will also start to accept Nest’s CSV file formats and People’s Pension’s CSV file formats to help any payroll users who can’t get any sort of PAPDIS export from their software (such as BrightPay). 

Check out our short video showing how you can upload all your clients’ pension files to PensionSync in seconds:

And here's video showing how PensionSync brings all your pension clients together in one easy to use Dashboard: 

If you’d like to try PensionSync out or yourself, you can register for a 3 month free trial here:

PensionSync Free Trial