The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has secured its first conviction for non-compliance with auto-enrolment.
Stotts Tours, a bus company from Manchester, and its managing director, Alan Stott, have pleaded guilty to a total of 16 offences of failing to comply with the law on workplace pensions.
The regulator found that 36 staff from Stotts Tours should have been put into a pension scheme, and announced the prosecution in September.
It decided that the company’s failure to comply with the law was deliberate and merited the criminal prosecution of both the company and its director.
Both Stotts Tours and Mr Stott pleaded guilty to eight counts of wilful failure to comply with the automatic enrolment duty under section 3(2) of the Pensions Act 2008, contrary to section 45(1) of that act.
According to Darren Ryder, The Pensions Regulator’s director of automatic enrolment, “dozens of staff at the company were entitled to workplace pensions, but were denied them because their employer deliberately failed to set them up”.
He said: “Automatic enrolment is not an option, it is the law.
"Employers should be in no doubt that if they wilfully refuse to become compliant they could end up with a criminal record – and will still have to give their staff the pensions they are due.”
Their case was heard at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 10 November, and was adjourned for sentencing at the same court on 14 December.
The Pensions Regulator is separately pursuing Stotts Tours for £14,400 in civil fines imposed for non-compliance.
Although this is the first prosecution for these offences, the regulator has issued many fines to companies that have not complied with auto-enrolment requirements.
The regulator issued 4,794 fixed penalty notices of £400 to employers for failing to meet their auto-enrolment duties in the period April to June 2017, up from 4,673 the previous quarter.
Auto-enrolment offences can be tried in a crown court or in a magistrates’ court.
In a crown court the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment.
In a magistrates’ court, the maximum sentence is an unlimited fine.