Employers across the UK suspected of providing false or misleading information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) about how they are meeting their automatic enrolment duties, will now be targeted with short notice inspections.
This latest round of spot checks starting later this month will also target employers who are still non-compliant despite penalty action.
TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment, Darren Ryder, said: “It is an offence for employers to provide TPR with false information on their declaration of compliance, but there are tell-tale signs indicating an employer might not be telling the truth. We can also detect employers who are failing to meet their automatic enrolment duties despite being issued with a penalty and we will take action if we suspect either of these is the case.
“The vast majority of employers are meeting their responsibilities and automatic enrolment is now business as usual. But where employers fail to comply with the law, we will use our full range of our powers to ensure staff get the pensions they are due.”
In a recent court case, a healthcare provider was fined £20,000 by the courts for providing TPR with false or misleading information. Birmingham-based Crest Healthcare and its managing director pleaded guilty to knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information and wilfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties.
Employers who have been given an escalating penalty notice for non-compliance but have still failed to meet their responsibilities, along with a small number of employers selected at random, will also be subject to the spot checks.
The inspections will start this month and will be carried out across the country including Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
The latest compliance drive follows a series of spot checks carried out over the past 12 months. Starting in London, spot checks were carried out in the North East, Northern Ireland, South Wales, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.
The inspections are to detect non-compliance and also to gain insight into employer behaviour. Insight from these spot checks will be included in the annual Automatic Enrolment Commentary and Analysis report to be published this summer.
- TPR’s latest compliance and enforcement bulletin published in May shows that the number of times we have used our powers between January and March made up 20% of the number of times we have used our powers since the start of automatic enrolment.
- Inspections are carried out under section 74 of the Pensions Act 2004. More information on our powers is set out in our automatic enrolment compliance and enforcement strategy.
- Employers are usually notified about an inspection a matter of days in advance of our 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.
- TPR 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 TPR’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).