Just under half of employers are still failing to ready themselves for auto-enrolment, though most businesses prepare well in advance, according to data released by Aviva.
The provider has launched a tracker which reveals the extent to which some employers are leaving their auto-enrolment obligations to the last minute, and the proportion which appear to be organised well in advance of staging.
Data gleaned by Aviva through the tracker shows 53 per cent of businesses had prepared well in advance, making their application two months or before their staging date.
Meanwhile 48 per cent of employers left setting up their workplace pension to the last minute.
A total of 12 per cent of businesses made their application to Aviva after their staging month had passed, putting them at risk of a fine.
Andy Beswick, managing director for business solutions at Aviva, said: “Business owners have to face up to auto-enrolment and not bury their heads in the sand.
"I hope that by showing when our own clients are choosing to stage, we can encourage others to act and start planning earlier for their workplace pension obligations.
“We understand that, for a variety of reasons, some business owners will leave applying to the last minute or miss their staging date. The good news is that we can work with all companies regardless of whether they are planning auto-enrolment well in advance or have already missed their staging date.
"No matter where they are in their journey we can get them set up with a workplace pension quickly and efficiently. We also have a range of planning tools that can help employers prepare in advance so they are ready in plenty of time.”
Aviva will be releasing the figures on a quarterly basis, and will use its own client data to provide insight into how close small and medium enterprises are getting to their staging dates.
Colin Rodger, director at Edinburgh and Glasgow-based Alexander Sloan Financial Planning said: "Our experience backs up the Aviva findings. A lot of small businesses are leaving it to the last moment and beyond, very often because it is simply not a priority.
"This results in a minimum contribution scheme with Nest, which has an obligation to accept any employer and can be set up very quickly."