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Spot checks to be targeted at suspect employers across the UK

Ref: PN22-13

Issued: Thursday 5 May 2022

Employers suspected of failing to meet their workplace pensions duties are being targeted with spot check inspections.

The majority of employers visited by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) are those which have failed to make the correct pensions contributions for their staff.

The compliance drive marks a return by TPR to larger scale in-person inspections targeting different areas across the UK, following the lifting of COVID restrictions earlier this year.

While TPR has continued with urgent ad-hoc inspections on employers suspected of serious breaches, its routine compliance drives had been paused in response to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

TPR’s Head of Compliance and Enforcement Joe Turner said: “Despite the challenges of the past two years, the majority of employers have continued to meet their responsibilities, including paying contributions in full on time and recognising that automatic enrolment is business as usual.

“But where we are aware that an employer is failing to do the right thing, we will take action to protect savers, including on-site inspections. This means we could be knocking on an employer’s door in any part of the UK.

“Where an employer fails to meet their automatic enrolment duties, our priority is to make sure they become compliant. We use our wide-ranging powers to do so, including issuing financial penalties where appropriate.”

As well as detecting and confirming non-compliance, the inspections also allow TPR to gather valuable insight into employer behaviour, including identifying common errors. These include administrative errors in respect of ongoing duties. In most cases, TPR inspectors work on site with employers found to be non-compliant to help get them back on track.

On-site inspections will be carried out across a number of regions and cities throughout the UK in the coming months including Greater Manchester, Nottingham, Greater London and Belfast. TPR has previously visited employers in all parts of the UK.

As well as carrying out spot check inspections, TPR also detects non-compliance using RTI data shared by HMRC, alerts from pension schemes, whistleblowing reports from individuals, and other information and intelligence.

Notes for editors

  • TPR publishes a Compliance and Enforcement bulletin every six months showing where we have used our powers. The latest bulletin was published in March.
  • Inspections are carried out under section 74 of the Pensions Act 2004. More information on TPR’s powers is set out in our automatic enrolment compliance and enforcement strategy.
  • Employers are usually notified about an inspection two weeks advance of TPR’s visit. Those being visited include organisations that we suspect may not be compliant or who we believe are at risk of becoming non-compliant in the future.
  • The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

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