Pensions Regulator  

Regulator accused of being 'heavy-handed' on AE penalties

Regulator accused of being 'heavy-handed' on AE penalties

The Pensions Regulator has been described as "heavy-handed" after it emerged 82 per cent of disputed auto-enrolment statutory notices issued to businesses were incorrect.

Research by payroll and pensions platform Paycircle found that just 18 per cent of penalties issued by the regulator were upheld following a review.

However, a TPR spokesperson pointed out that fewer than 10 per cent of employers who were issued with a statutory notice had asked for it to be reviewed.

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The research follows figures released last month by TPR that showed a massive rise in the number of compliance and penalty notices issued in the third quarter.

It revealed three out of five of the compliance notices issued over the past four years were done so in the last three months.

Paycirlce co-founder Catherine Pinkney described the roll-out of auto-enrolment as a "gargantuan administrative task", meaning there were bound to be mistakes.

"But the percentage of fines being revoked is a real cause for concern.

"With over 80% of businesses successfully having their statutory notices either altered or revoked, some might argue the Regulator has been too heavy-handed in its auto-enrolment enforcement."

She warned business owners to be aware that in many cases these fines are being overturned, a fact that could save them hundreds of pounds.

"As this data proves, if you feel the penalty you have received is unfair, the chances are you can get the decision either changed or reversed entirely."

Responding to the research, a spokesperson for TPR said: “Far from being heavy handed with our enforcement, by September this year our 'educate and enable' approach had helped more than a quarter of a million employers meet their automatic enrolment duties and put more than 6 million workers into a pension.

“We urge people not to ignore letters from us and to get in touch if they feel they are not subject to automatic enrolment before they receive a statutory notice or fine.“