UK – The British Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) has started a new online facility to help UK employers decide if they need to offer access to a stakeholder pension for their workers. The decision tree is available on the regulator’s web site, at

“Understanding the various employer access exemptions can be daunting if you are a busy employer. This new web facility is designed to make it as easy as possible to clarify where you stand. Some employers may need to check the details of their existing pension arrangements before they can answer all the questions with confidence – but this new facility will make it easier to see the wood from the trees,” says Caroline Instance, chief executive at Opra.

On the internet site, employers will be asked a series of simple questions, after which the programme replies whether they are exempt from having to offer access to a stakeholder pension or not.

Stakeholder pensions become available in the UK from April 6 this year. Employers who are not exempt must provide their workers with access to a stakeholder plan by October 8, 2001. Opra has the power to fine employers up to £50,000 if they fail to offer staff access to a scheme.