The Pension Regulator has fined a company £10,000 for failing to meet the deadline to take action on compliance with auto-enrolment, even though it had engaged a financial adviser.
Despite using an adviser to help meet its duties, it received the fine for not informing the regulator of any action being taken to put things right.
It was only once the adviser contacted the regulator, and put in place a scheme within four days, that the daily fine of £2,500 stopped.
The regulator said the fines – along with having to pay staff contributions of around £15,000 – could have been avoided if the employer had complied on time.
The case study was published in its latest compliance bulletin and is aimed at helping other employers avoid such situations.
The employer, which is in the sports sector, failed to complete a declaration of compliance and inform TPR that it hadn’t started AE. It was issued with a compliance notice requiring payment of arrears and staff contributions from their staging date, which was in 2014.
The company failed to comply within the 60-day deadline, so it was given a £400 fine, with a further 28 days to comply.
A spokeswoman for TPR said: ““One of our messages to employers and advisers is that they are both clear what they are responsible for so that various tasks don’t slip through the gap.”
Tony Catt, an independent compliance consultant, said the real issue is the fact it missed its staging date by so far.
Mr Catt said: “The good thing about this is that it could be a test case. It is not great for that company, but shows that the regulator is serious about companies complying.
“Staging dates are set very far in advance and companies have a lot of run-in time. A lot of companies receive a letter about the staging date and do nothing until suddenly they think ‘oh blimey’. It takes two weeks to set it up.”
Mr Catt said the onus is on the company and not the adviser. “Companies don’t really need an adviser to help them set up. They can go to Nest [National Employment Savings Trust] or do it themselves. Advisers will never be held liable for missing staging dates.”