The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has begun carrying out spot checks in cities across the East Midlands to ensure employers are complying with their pension duties.
According to the watchdog, inspection teams will visit dozens of businesses in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester in February, to check that qualifying staff are being given the workplace pensions they are entitled to.
Even though this is the first time the regulator is conducting these checks in these counties, this is part of a nationwide enforcement campaign which began in London in April.
The spot checks have also occurred in Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent recently, and previously in Glasgow, South Wales, Greater Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.
The checks will help TPR understand whether employers are facing any unnecessary challenges that the regulator can help them with, such as improving their systems.
But they will also highlight employers who have not taken the required steps to become or remain compliant, paving the way for enforcement action, the watchdog said.
According to numbers published in November, TPR used its powers nearly 22,000 times against employers breaching their auto-enrolment duties between July and September.
The number of fixed penalty notices and escalating penalty notices both reached new records, increasing by 14.2 per cent to 5,479 and by 3.5 per cent to 1,433 respectively, when compared with the previous quarter.
Darren Ryder, director of automatic enrolment at TPR, argued that “the vast majority of employers are compliant with the law,” but these visits will help to identify why some may be struggling so the regulator can take action.
He said: "Automatic enrolment is not an option, it’s the law. Where we find employers are not complying, we will use our powers to ensure they comply so staff receive the pensions they are entitled to."
Nearly 1m employers across the UK have met their automatic enrolment duties, and there are now more than nine million people auto-enrolled in a workplace pension scheme, according to data from TPR.