Auto-enrolment  

Regulator names and shames employers failing to auto-enrol

Regulator names and shames employers failing to auto-enrol

For the first time employers taken to court for failing to pay fines for failure to meet their auto-enrolment responsibilities are being named by The Pensions Regulator.

Recalcitrant employers are now listed by The Pensions Regulator in its compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin.

Included are the details of every organisation that the The Pensions Regulator has secured a court order against after the employers failed to meet their auto-enrolment responsibilities.

In each case the employer had been issued with an escalating penalty notice by the regulator for non-compliance but had failed to pay it.

Separately The Pensions Regulator has published the details of every employer that continues to ignore its automatic enrolment responsibilities despite having been issued with – and having paid – an EPN.

For those employers who remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties, the regulator may consider taking additional enforcement action against them, including prosecution.

The Pensions Regulator issued 4,673 fixed penalty notices (FPN) of £400 for automatic enrolment non-compliance to employers in the first three months of 2017, up from 2,919 FPNs the previous quarter – the largest total issued to date.

A total of 1,043 EPNs were issued in the quarter, up from 870 in the last three months of 2016. This was also the highest quarterly EPN total.

Charles Counsell, executive director of auto-enrolment for The Pensions Regulator, said: “Employers who willfully refuse to become compliant should be in no doubt that we will take enforcement action against them, as these lists show.

“Automatic enrolment is not an option, it is the law. Allowing some employers to get away with non-compliance is not fair on the employees who are denied the workplace pensions they are entitled to and is not fair on the vast majority of businesses who have taken the time to meet their responsibilities.

“To date we have only had to bring court proceedings against a tiny proportion of employers, but every court case is one too many – and one that employers can easily avoid by becoming compliant.”

The two lists being published include organisations spread across the UK, from the north of Scotland to the south of England.

It features small and medium-sized firms, across a range of industries and sectors.

Updated lists will be published each quarter, alongside the publication of the compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin.

The compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin also revealed a large increase in the number of inspections of business premises carried out by The Pensions Regulator staff to check for compliance.

A total of 224 inspections were carried out in the quarter, compared with 57 for the whole of 2016.

Commenting on the decision to publish the names of employers who fail to meet their auto-enrolment duties, Malcolm McLean, senior consultant at Barnett Waddingham, said he supported the measure.

Mr McLean said: “It brings home to employers their responsibilities and acts as a deterrent against non-compliance.”

stephanie.hawthorne@ft.com