Guest Comment: TPR steps up enforcement

It has been said numerous times by media commentators that TPR has been more and more willing to show its teeth over the past year.

We’ve been demonstrating our determination to tackle those flouting their automatic enrolment duties through penalty notices and prosecutions for a range of offences.

There have been sizeable fines given by the courts to employers who have deliberately failed to comply with workplace pension laws or have lied to us that they have done the right thing.

It is a fact that fines can be a clear deterrent to anyone considering breaking the law.
But the recent case of Derby-based recruitment firm Workchain has increased dramatically the size of that deterrent.

For the first time, we prosecuted an employer and seven people who had illegally opted their staff out of their workplace pension scheme, after posing as the workers involved over the phone and online.

And sentencing them at Derby Crown Court, Judge Nirmal Shant QC was clear that the courts would not accept employers trying to cut costs by denying their staff the pensions to which they are entitled.

The £250,000 fine she ordered Workchain to pay was the largest imposed following a TPR prosecution. But of possibly more significance were the suspended prison sentences handed down to four of the defendants – the first to ever follow legal action by TPR.

Employers now know if they fail to comply with pension legislation they face not only a blow to their bank balances but possibly the loss of their liberty.

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