The number of compliance and fixed penalty notices issued by The Pensions Regulator has dropped significantly towards the end of last year.
In an enforcement bulletin published today (February 14) the regulator reported the number of automatic enrolment compliance notices issued in the final quarter of last year fell to 6,795, compared with 14,997 issued in the previous quarter.
Likewise, the number of fixed penalty notices issued in relation to automatic enrolment in the quarter dropped to 5,758, compared with 12,551 in the previous quarter.
The regulator attributed this to a change in the type of employer subject to automatic enrolment duties during the second half of 2018, from those with a staging date to new employers. There was also an increasing number of employers with re-declaration duties.
The Pensions Regulator closed 20,000 automatic enrolment cases in last year’s final quarter, with unpaid contribution notices representing the biggest proportional increase of all the powers it used.
In total, between October and December last year, the watchdog used 21,814 selected powers in its regulation of automatic enrolment - including 88 inspections and 6,421 unpaid contributions notices.
Of these notices, 1,907 were revoked, substituted or varied as a result of a review requested by an employer in disagreement with the regulator.
The Pensions Regulator advised where a notice was substituted, this may mean that a different breach has been uncovered and a different statutory power was used instead.
Darren Ryder, director of automatic enrolment at The Pensions Regulator, said: "More than 1.4 million employers have done the right thing for their staff and we’re delighted so many now have the opportunity to save for later in life.
"But we are not complacent and will continue to ensure employers and their advisers meet their responsibilities.
"We will not tolerate behaviour by employers or their advisers that sees pension savers short changed by not being put into a scheme."
Whilst acknowledging the "vital help" accountants and advisers offer employers in the automatic enrolment programme, the regulator warned it would be tough on those who helped avoid their legal duties.
In the first prosecution of its kind, last November the regulator successfully prosecuted the accountant of a London cafe for falsely claiming its employees had been enrolled into pensions.