A healthcare company has been told by the Pensions Ombudsman to repay an employee’s pension contributions, after he was unable to opt out due to the employer providing an incorrect date of birth and national insurance number to Nest.
Mr S had previously been auto-enrolled into Nest on four separate occasions, by two different employers: Bleep 360 on December 14 2017, August 20 2018 and September 21 2018, as well as by Fosse Recruitment on December 18 2017.
On November 16 2018, a separate employer, Panisade, automatically enrolled Mr S into Nest. However, it provided an incorrect date of birth and national insurance number for Mr S.
Nest then sent Mr S a member welcome pack, which stated: “Your employer Panisade enrolled you into Nest with effect from 16 November 2018.”
Mr S proceeded to contact Nest to opt out again, to which the provider responded that it was unable to answer his queries or carry out his opt-out request, since he was not able to provide the (incorrect) personal information that his employer had supplied for him. Nest asked for his employer’s name, to which Mr S informed the provider that it was Bleep 360.
Mr S attempted to have these details corrected, and asked Nest if it could do so. Yet the scheme was unable to correct the information, citing data protection issues. Nest then told Mr S to ask his employer to provide the correct information, after which it could proceed with his opt-out request.
On December 2 2018, Mr S notified Nest that he had received a letter from HM Revenue & Customs, which stated that Panisade Ltd had automatically enrolled him into Nest. He said that he was in full-time NHS employment, and that Panisade was not his “main employer for HMRC records”.
Nest had another conversation with Mr S, on December 10 2018, asking him to contact his employer in order for it to supply the correct information for him.
Mr S followed this call up on the same day with an email, which was addressed to Nest and Bleep 360. It detailed his unhappiness with the process, and he also said that he was “not interested” in asking his employer to provide the correct details because he had already given them directly to Nest. He asked for Bleep 360 and Panisade to work with the provider to resolve the issue.
Mr S had not received a reply to this request by December 20 2018, the date on which his opt-out period ended. In a letter, Nest informed Mr S that the incorrect information had been provided by Panisade.
Member claims Nest was at fault
Mr S’s position was that Nest was at fault, as it had accepted the information at face value without verifying the details with him.
Moreover, Mr S argued that Nest had informed him that the employer which provided the wrong data was Panisade, not Bleep 360, after the opt-out period had ended. Mr S believed that if Nest had notified him in time, he would have sent the email on December 10 2018 to Panisade.
Mr S wanted Nest to refund the contributions that Panisade had paid into the scheme against his wishes. In addition, Mr S requested that Nest pay a substantial award for the considerable inconvenience it had caused him. Mr S’s contributions amounted to “approximately £200”.