Bus company fined by TPR for avoiding AE duties has licence cut

Written by Theo Andrew

The bus company that became the first to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator for failing to auto-enrol its staff has had its transport licence cut by the Traffic Commissioner.

The Commissioner cut Stotts Tours' (Oldham) licence from 40 to 31 vehicles indefinitely, after managing director Alan Stott “manifestly brought its good repute into doubt”, admitting to deliberately trying to avoid enrolling staff into a workplace pension scheme in November 2017.

In February 2018, the firm was ordered to pay more than £60,000 for failing to comply with the law on workplace pensions, having been expected to initiate payment of contributions from June 2015.

Traffic Commissioner for the North West of England, Simon Evans, said: “That Stotts Tours became the first company to be prosecuted casts a shadow on the industry.

“My dismay is compounded because this case goes beyond a simple failure to comply with the law – since staff of companies such as Stotts Tours are the very people whose interests an operator ought to be guarding and through the provision of pension schemes investing in their future.”

The firm was called into a public inquiry before the Traffic Commissioner on 27 April 2018, and produced evidence that a pension scheme was now in place and back-payments of employer contributions had been made, estimated at £10,000.

The firm also agreed to appoint a new transport manager and undertakings regarding the financial standing of the company and payment of fines were put in place.

Stotts Tours was ordered to pay a fine of £27,000, £7,400 of costs and a £120 victim surcharge. Stott was also ordered to pay a £4,455 fine and a £120 victim surcharge.

These fines are in addition to the £14,400 owed in civil fines that the employer must pay for failing to comply with the law on auto-enrolment.

Last month, healthcare company Crest Healthcare pleaded guilty to misleading TPR about complying with its auto-enrolment duties. The case was adjourned for sentencing until 15 May.

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