Automatic enrolment  

More than 150 bosses face court action for pension failings

More than 150 bosses face court action for pension failings

More than 150 employers have received County Court Judgments brought by The Pensions Regulator for failing to pay their auto-enrolment fines between March 2016 and May this year.

There were 50,068 uses of The Pension Regulator's formal powers in 2016-17.

This included 33,716 compliance notices, 4 warrants, 12,181 fixed penalty notices, 187 statutory demands for information, 1,193 unpaid contribution notices, 2,527 escalating penalty notices.

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The majority of employers subsequently comply when reminded of their duties after receiving a compliance notice.

However a £400 fixed penalty notice is issued automatically under section 40 of the Pensions Act 2008 for failure to comply with a statutory notice or specific employer duties.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, TPR received 193 Tribunal appeals and decided to defend 111 cases. Of the 70 appeals decided by the Tribunal, the notice was confirmed in 69 cases.

Employers taken to court for failing to pay fines for workplace pension non-compliance are now being made public on a new list on TPR's website.

Separately, TPR is also publishing the details of every employer  that continues to ignore its auto-enrolment responsibilities despite having been issued with – and having paid – an escalating penalty notice.

The TPR report, published on 31 July, gives a case study of Johnsons Shoes Company, which was issued with a £400 fixed penalty notice that turned into a bill for more than £40,000 after it failed to comply with the law on the automatic enrolment of its staff into a workplace pension.

The company had been required to check whether its staff qualified to be put into a workplace pension scheme and to confirm to TPR that it had done so.

Johnsons paid their initial £400 fine but still did not enrol all eligible staff into a pension scheme.

Despite repeated reminders – and being warned that it would face a new fine that would increase by £2,500 per day if it did not meet its responsibilities – the business did not meet its duties. 

The fine reached £40,000 before the company finally became compliant.

At that point, Johnsons refused to pay the fine – forcing TPR to take the business to court to secure payment.

Eventually Johnsons agreed to pay the £40,000 fine and £2,000 court costs, preventing the need for a full court hearing on the matter.

The report also highlighted that  around 73 per cent of all small businesses, and nearly half of micro businesses, will have eligible staff with the roll out across the UK extending to  more than 700,000 existing employers this year, as well as new businesses in the years to come.

In 2012, 55 per cent of staff were saving into a workplace pension and by 2016 that figure had increased to 78 per cent.

By the end of March this year, around seven million staff had been automatically enrolled by around 500,000 employers.

TPR’s director of automatic enrolment Darren Ryder said: : “Saving for retirement is becoming the social norm and the success of automatic enrolment is playing a key role in this shift. Our figures show that new businesses will continue this trend as they ensure workers are enrolled into a workplace pension.