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Apply for a review

If you believe that you should not have been issued a notice, you can appeal.

To appeal against a notice, the first step is to apply to us for a review.

This page explains the process and what you can expect from us. We also tell you about the circumstances where a review is not likely to succeed and what you can do if you disagree with our review decision.

Which types of notices can be reviewed?

You can apply for a review if you have received one or more of the following notices or penalties:

  • Compliance notice
  • Unpaid contributions notice
  • Fixed penalty notice
  • Escalating penalty notice
  • Third party compliance notice
  • Prohibited recruitment conduct compliance notice
  • Prohibited recruitment conduct penalty notice

How to apply for a review


Apply for a review online

You must apply within 28 days of the date of the notice.

If you apply later than 28 days you will need to tell us why. We will look at your reason for the delay and at the information you provide and decide if, in exceptional circumstances, we will consider your application for a review.

Who can apply?

We will only accept a review application from the person or organisation that the notice was issued to, or someone authorised to act on their behalf.

What information do I need to provide?

We will only accept a review application if it includes an explanation of why you believe you should not have been issued the notice. If you have evidence to support what you say, include it with your application.
Examples of supporting evidence

It is important that you supply as much information as possible to support your claim. We will make our review decision on the evidence you provide at the time of your application. The information you provide should support the specific points you raise in your application.

You may want to include:

  • letters you sent to staff
  • postponement notices
  • opt–in notices, opt-out notices
  • records that show the date that staff were put into your pension scheme
  • screen shots from your pension provider’s portal showing enrolment or payments
  • bank statements showing payments
  • a letter from your scheme stating when you paid contributions and the period the payments covered
  • evidence of when you tried to complete the online Declaration of Compliance
  • employment contracts or redundancy notices
  • evidence that you have ceased trading
  • documents relating to insolvency proceedings
  • evidence from your PAYE scheme

If you are asking for a review because you cannot afford to comply with your duties, you should complete the financial hardship form (DOC, 696kb, 2 pages) and send financial information about your business, such as your most recent profit and loss account, balance sheet and details of your cash flow.

A financial hardship form can only be used when applying for a review. You can attach this completed form as a document to the online review application.

If you cannot afford to pay your penalty, contact our debt recovery team on 0345 600 2475.

When is a review application likely to succeed?

We will revoke the notice if you can show that the employer duties don’t apply to you, that you did actually comply on time, or that you had a reasonable excuse for failing to comply.

Who doesn’t have employer duties?

Employer duties won’t apply if:

  • you have ceased trading
  • you are a sole trader or partnership without any staff working for you
  • you are a one-person company
  • your company has no staff other than the directors, and no more than one director has an employment contract
What may count as a reasonable excuse?

The following are examples of circumstances that might be considered a reasonable excuse:

  • If you, or a key member of staff, has prolonged and serious ill health or are bereaved, and there were no alternative staff who could reasonably be expected to carry out the work. You will need to provide evidence that this has affected you over the time that we have been communicating with you.
  • Loss of business records through flood or fire, and the records could not be replaced.
  • If you can show that you have had major technical problems with the on-line declaration of compliance (you will need to provide the date and time, and supporting details such as screenshots of error messages, and explain why you didn’t contact us by phone).
  • Delays beyond your control, for example delays caused solely by your pension scheme provider (you will need to explain why you could not switch to a different provider).
  • If you claim that you cannot afford to carry out your automatic enrolment duties, you will need to complete the financial hardship form (DOC, 696kb, 2 pages) and submit it with your review application along with supporting documents. 
    If you cannot afford to pay your penalty, contact our debt recovery team on 0345 600 2475.
What won't count as a reasonable excuse?
  • Lack of understanding of how to comply with your automatic enrolment duties.
  • You didn’t get a reminder from us to complete your automatic enrolment duties.
  • You were unable to comply in time due to pressure of work.
  • You are a small business and didn’t have anyone to help you comply.
  • You relied on someone else to carry out automatic enrolment for you and they didn’t.
  • You relied on someone else to complete your declaration of compliance for you and they didn’t.
  • You found it too difficult to complete the declaration of compliance online but didn’t contact us to find out other ways to complete it, for example by telephone or by post.
  • You thought you had completed the declaration of compliance online but had failed to tick the box at the end of the online form to confirm your declaration.
  • Your staff didn’t want to be put into a pension scheme.
  • You complied late but only by a few days.

What happens next

We will check your application and decide whether to carry out a review. If we decide not to, we will write to you explaining why.

If we decide to carry out a review, we will look at the information you gave us and do one of the following with the notice:

  • confirm it – the notice is upheld, and if there is a fine you still have to pay it
  • revoke it – the notice is overturned, and you do not have to pay any fine
  • vary it – the notice is changed, eg by extending the deadline for compliance or payment
  • substitute it – the notice is replaced with a different one, which you must then comply with

What if I don’t agree with the review decision?

If you don’t agree with the decision (including a decision not to carry out a review) you can appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. This is an independent tribunal separate from The Pensions Regulator. You can only appeal to the tribunal against the following notices:

  • a fixed penalty notice
  • an escalating penalty notice
  • a prohibited recruitment conduct penalty notice.

The tribunal has said that they will not accept an appeal if you applied for a review outside the 28 day time limit, and we decided not to carry one out.

Find out how to appeal to the tribunal.