Are you carrying out your pension responsibilities?

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is reminding all employers of their automatic enrolment (AE) responsibilities as new figures show an increase in penalties issued.

TPR’s quarterly compliance and enforcement bulletin shows a 191.4 per cent rise in unpaid contribution notices (UCNs) – from 352 to 1,026.

There was also a 17 per cent increase in compliance notices (CNs) – from 13,185 to 15,420 – compared with the previous quarter.

UCNs are issued if the regulator believes employers have missed contributions into a workplace pension scheme. The notices give employers a date for paying missed contributions.

Employers receive CN when the regulator thinks they have breached their automatic enrolment duties. The notices outline what the employer needs to do to be compliant, and by when.

The regulator says increase in CNs was partly the result of a 14 per cent increase in employers who reached their declaration, re-declaration or second re-declaration deadline between June and August compared with those who reached their deadline between March and May 2020.

The figures also show how the regulator is continuing to be tough with employers who don’t comply with their duties.

Mel Charles, director of automatic enrolment at TPR, said: “Employers may have seen their business change because of Covid-19, but their pension duties have not.

“While we issued easements at the start of the pandemic, we closely monitored compliance and took action where necessary. We continued to target employers who committed serious breaches and where staff contributions were at immediate risk.

“As predicted, we are seeing a return to normal levels of enforcement activity in line with our expectations, but we will monitor this closely.

“Indications are that the majority of employers are paying their contributions in full and on time and we have not seen any unusual increase in reports of late payments by pension schemes.

“However, employers must remember their pension duties continue and failure to fulfil them may lead to legal action.”

TPR also secured its first confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in September when a fraudster who swindled a charity’s pension scheme out of more than £250,000 was told he must pay back the money he stole or face further jail time.

• To discuss any aspects or issues regarding automatic enrolment please contact me on 01772 430000