The Pensions Regulator is cracking down on employers suspected of not complying with their auto-enrolment duties by conducting short-notice inspections.
TPR is comparing its data with information given by companies to HM Revenue & Customs to pinpoint employers who are suspected of breaking the law.
The watchdog will check those who fail to put staff into a pension scheme or who make no, or incorrect, pension contributions.
It is mandatory for employers to take part in the inspections – obstruction of an inspector and failing to provide information when required to do so are criminal offences. Non-compliance could also result in fines or court action, TPR warned.
The inspections will start this week and continue over the summer across the country.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrolment, said the watchdog’s data and intelligence streams enable its officials “to detect potential non-compliance and take swift action against individual employers”.
He said: “This allows us to target our resources in a very focused way as part of our role to protect pension savers.
“We know the vast majority of employers are doing the right thing for their staff, however there are a small minority who persistently ignore their responsibilities. They can expect a knock at the door from us and enforcement action.”
Previous rounds of spot checks targeted employers by region, from at-risk business sectors and from random test samples – as well as employers where there was evidence of non-compliance.
TPR will also be directly contacting other employers suspected of non-compliance by phone to validate the information held related to them meeting their duties, to ensure they are complying fully.
FTAdviser reported in January that the number of businesses fined by TPR for auto-enrolment errors rose 144 per cent in the previous year.
Figures compiled by commercial law firm EMW showed 35,810 businesses were fined in the year to September, up from 14,650 in 2016 to 2017.