TPR warns employers over AE compliance as it issues £350k fine

The Pensions Regulator is reiterating its warning to employers that they need to comply with their automatic enrolment duties, otherwise they could face a fine.

In its latest Compliance and enforcement bulletin, published today, 22 August, TPR used the example of an anonymous company that was fined £350,000 for failing to fully comply with its pension duties.

TPR said that despite its warnings, the employer, which has 5,000 staff, allowed an escalating penalty notice to grow before correctly re-enrolling staff into the company pension scheme and paying the right contributions.

Commenting, TPR director of automatic enrolment, Darren Ryder, said: “This size of fine is rare as the vast majority of employers now consider automatic enrolment to be an everyday part of running their business and helping workers to save. However, this case is a stark warning that failing to address problems early can lead to hefty fines which could be avoided.

“We do not want to fine businesses, we want them to meet their legal duties and we are here to help them do this.”

Following TPR’s intervention, the London-based company has now re-enrolled more than 40 staff and paid more than £100,000 of backdated pension contributions, as well as ensuring ongoing contributions are correctly calculated and paid. The backdated payments, which are in addition to the fine, cover both the re-enrolment failure and incorrect contributions affecting more than 2,000 staff.

“This case also demonstrates it’s vital to carry out both ongoing duties and re-enrolment correctly. We will take action to ensure that not only are staff put into a pension but they continue to receive the correct contributions on an ongoing basis, and that those who opt out are re-enrolled correctly and given their right to start saving,” Ryder said.

The regulator’s latest bulletin also revealed that TPR published a determinations notice detailing the first time it used our power to appoint a trustee primarily because of a lack of competence of the existing trustee board.

In more positive news, TPR also stated that it has authorised seven master trust schemes in the period under s13 of the Pensions Act 2017. More than 200,000 employers have also met their re-enrolment responsibilities and tens of thousands of small employers (those with fewer than 50 staff) are approaching the third anniversary of their staging date.

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