Employers taken to court for failing to pay fines for workplace pension non-compliance are being made public on a new list.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has today published its latest compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin (PDF, 131kb, 8 pages).
As part of the bulletin, for the first time TPR has published the details of every organisation that it has secured a court order against after the employers failed to meet their automatic enrolment responsibilities. In each case the employer had been issued with an escalating penalty notice (EPN) by TPR for non-compliance but had failed to pay it.
Separately TPR has published the details of every employer that continues to ignore its automatic enrolment responsibilities despite having been issued with – and having paid – an EPN.
For those employers who remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties, we may consider taking additional enforcement action against them, including prosecution in appropriate cases in accordance with TPR’s published prosecution policy.
TPR intends that publishing the lists will highlight the importance of employers meeting their automatic enrolment requirements, emphasising the large fines that can be imposed on employers if they don’t.
Charles Counsell, TPR’s Executive Director of Automatic Enrolment, said:
“Employers who wilfully refuse to become compliant should be in no doubt that we will take enforcement action against them, as these lists show.
“Automatic enrolment is not an option, it is the law. Allowing some employers to get away with non-compliance is not fair on the employees who are denied the workplace pensions they are entitled to and is not fair on the vast majority of businesses who have taken the time to meet their responsibilities.
“To date we have only had to bring court proceedings against a tiny proportion of employers, but every court case is one too many – and one that employers can easily avoid by becoming compliant.”
The two lists being published today include organisations spread across the UK, from the north of Scotland to the south of England. It features small and medium-sized firms, across a range of industries and sectors.
Updated lists will be published each quarter, alongside the publication of the compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin.
The compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin also reveals a large increase in the number of inspections of business premises carried out by TPR staff to check for compliance – part of TPR’s commitment to taking swifter and more effective action against those committing pension law offences. A total of 224 inspections were carried out in the quarter, compared to the 57 in the whole of 2016.
TPR issued more than 4,673 fixed penalty notices (FPN) of £400 for automatic enrolment non-compliance to employers in the first three months of 2017, up from 2,919 FPNs the previous quarter – the largest total issued to date.
A total of 1,043 EPNs were issued in the quarter, up from 870 in the last three months of 2016. This was also the highest quarterly EPN total.
This increase is in line with the expansion in the number of UK employers who have automatic enrolment responsibilities.
- The lists being published today feature employers who have been given an EPN for failing to comply with automatic enrolment.
- The first list includes 20 employers who have been given EPNs for a collective total of more than £60,000, which they have paid. However, despite having paid the EPNs, these employers continue to be non-compliant with their workplace pension duties.
- The second list includes 13 employers who were issued with EPNs for a collective total of more than £220,000. These employers failed to pay their EPNs so TPR secured court orders against them demanding payment. They include both compliant businesses, and non-compliant businesses whose cases are being reviewed over the potential for further action.
- More than 500,000 employers have met their workplace pension duties, the vast majority of those who have been required to so far. Nearly eight million staff working for those employers are now saving for their retirement because of automatic enrolment.
- However if employers fail to become compliant they could be issued with an FPN for £400. If they continue to be non-compliant they can be issued with an EPN that can increased by up to £10,000 per day until they act.
- For employers who remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties we may consider taking additional enforcement action against them, including prosecution in appropriate cases in accordance with TPR’s published prosecution policy.
- A study published by the Department for Work and Pensions in December 2016 estimates that there will be an extra £17 billion of workplace pension saving per year in the UK as a result of automatic enrolment by 2019/20. The first workers were automatically enrolled into pension schemes in 2012, starting with the largest employers. The policy was introduced to address under-saving with millions of workers not putting aside enough for retirement, and only one in three private sector workers paying into a workplace pension.
- TPR has the power to publish the details of its activities and cases in the interests of transparency, education and deterrence under section 89 of the Pensions Act. It also provides employers with a wide range of information and support in the form of letters, emails, and easy-to-use guidance on its website.
- 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); 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).
James GloverSenior Media Officer