The government has been criticised for failing to give employers clear guidelines on how to set up stakeholder pensions for their staff. Retailers can now begin applying to join the scheme and, if they have five or more employees (full or part-time), must ensure it is ready for their staff to begin making contributions by October 8. Stakeholder pensions are designed to supplement the state old age pension and thought particularly suitable for those who can't afford to contribute towards a private pension scheme. Employers have a wide variety to choose from and a list of all the registered schemes may be obtained from the Occupational Pension Regulatory Authority on 01273 627600. Entry to the scheme is voluntary as far as the employee is concerned, but employers must discuss their choice of plan with staff before implementing it. The Inland Revenue Employers' helpline on 0845 143 143 can answer outstanding queries. Members of organisations such as the Association of Convenience Stores or the National Federation of Retail Newsagents can also consider their stakeholder schemes, launched with members in mind. The NFRN, which has tailored its Mutual scheme to suit the independent retail newsagent, is advising members to take their time and decide wisely. October, not April, is the real deadline. So don't panic. {{GROCER CLUB }}