Automatic enrolment 

Regulator reveals scale of auto-enrolment rule breaking

Regulator reveals scale of auto-enrolment rule breaking

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is currently receiving more than 80 reports every week from people who suspect employers are breaking the law on workplace pensions, its director of automatic enrolment revealed.

In a blog post published today (16 May), Darren Ryder disclosed these whistleblower reports "have directly led to around 600 employers being investigated for non-compliance".

He said: "That may seem small compared to the almost 18,000 employers we issued automatic enrolment compliance notices to in the last three months of 2017 alone, or the 8,800 employers we fined in that period.

"But they represent 600 employers whose staff may have been losing out on pensions if we had not stepped in."

The most recent case involving a whistleblower was a healthcare company in Birmingham, whose staff were told that pension contributions were being paid by the employer when, in fact, a scheme hadn't even been set up.

Crest Healthcare managing director Sheila Aluko was fined more than £20,000 after admitting misleading the regulator and failing to comply with their auto-enrolment duties.

Mr Ryder argued that auto-enrolment has been a success, covering more than 1.2 million employers and more than 9.6 million people enrolled in a pension scheme.

He said: "We are satisfied that the vast majority of employers continue to comply with their duties.

"They have set up workplace pensions for their staff, completed their declaration of compliance and make regular contributions to the workers' pension pots.

"But when you are working with such a large number of employers, it seems inevitable that there will be a small minority who have either failed to do what they should or simply refused to."

The regulator's systems highlight cases of non-compliance for its staff to investigate, "but whistleblowers are also vital," Mr Ryder argued.

He said: "They are almost always the victims, so have the most to gain from helping us to make their bosses compliant. Those at the heart of a business may just have suspicions that something isn't quite right or they may know about a specific problem.

"Anyone who feels they might want to report something to us can visit our website for more information."

According to Mr Ryder, the regulator's website sets out in a very easy to use format the information the regulator needs from a whistleblower, such as what they think has been done wrong and the details of the employer involved.

The regulator will support the worker throughout any investigation that may take place following their report, to ensure they do not suffer for doing the right thing.

Mr Ryder added: “It may only take a moment of bravery from one person to enable us to shine a light into the murky practices of an employer.

"But justice for the offenders will mean that one whistleblower's actions could give them and many of their colleagues a better financial future."

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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