Paying the pension penalty

A healthcare company and its managing director were ordered to pay more than £20,000 after they admitted misleading The Pensions Regulator (TPR) about providing their staff with a workplace pension.

They each pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information to TPR and two counts of wilfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties when they appeared before magistrates earlier this year.

The case once again highlights the importance of compliance when it comes to the regulations – and the fact the TPR continues to take a tough approach to those who don’t.

Darren Ryder, TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment, summed it up after the case when he said: “We will not tolerate non-compliance and, as this case shows, neither will the courts.”
The TPR’s latest report also highlights its work to ensure employers meet their automatic enrolment pension duties.

A total of 35,862 enforcement powers were used between January and March 2018 compared to 28,446 the previous quarter.
On top of that 3,721 more fixed penalty notices were issued this quarter compared to last quarter and 2,037 more compliance notices were issued.

Darren Ryder, said: “Huge numbers of employers are starting their workplace pensions duties every month and the vast majority are successfully meeting their duties.
“However, where an employer fails to do the right thing for their staff, we will take action using the wide range of powers available to us.”

Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, also fired a warning, adding: “We are working to be a clearer, quicker and tougher regulator.”
Employers that refuse to pay workplace pension fines could have their assets seized to pay their debts.

TPR issues fines to employers that fail to meet their automatic enrolment duties and can secure court orders if the debts are not paid.
It is to now appoint High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforce court orders in England and Wales and the equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland on those employers that have refused or failed to comply.

If an employer does not pay its debt, HCEOs could visit the business premises to remove items to sell, to the value of the amount owed. This could include the employer’s vehicles.
And unlike bailiffs, HCEOs have the power to force entry to locked commercial premises to seize assets.
Separately, TPR will consider whether it should prosecute employers that remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties despite being given a court order demanding they pay the fines they have incurred.

At WNJ we continue to provide the help and advice that businesses need to meet their responsibilities as a result of the scheme and to ensure they do not fall foul of the regulations.