First AE fines issued as TPR gets tough

The Pension Regulator has issued its first fines to employers for failing to meet their auto-enrolment duties,

Three fixed penalty notices were issued, according to the latest automatic enrolment Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin published by TPR, each levying fines of £400 on employers. TPR has not revealed details of the nature of the breaches resulting in fines. 
The bulletin, which covers April stagers, saw 162 compliance notices issued giving employers a deadline within which to take actions. 
TPR is also launching a new advertising campaign aimed at small and micro employers, with a clear message from The Pensions Regulator: ‘Act now. It’s the law’.
April saw a significant rise in the number of employers needing to meet their duties as thousands of medium sized employers, with between 150 and 250 workers, staging in that month. These firms reached their deadline to complete their declaration of compliance at the end of August.
TPR says its research into employer awareness and calls to the regulator’s contact centres have indicated that some small employers still do not realise the law applies to them.

TPR table
TPR table

TPR executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell says: “We know most employers want to do the right thing and comply with the law. Where we take enforcement action by issuing a compliance notice, this gives employers the necessary wake-up call to provide the pensions their employees are due‎.
“As we deal with smaller employers, we will see more who, despite our message to prepare early, leave it too late or do not comply at all. This type of non-compliance is not acceptable. We expect to see the number of times we need to use our powers increase.
“It’s been two years since the first employers automatically enrolled their eligible workers into a workplace pension
“In that time, more than 4.7million workers have been put into a workplace pension scheme by their employer. That’s millions of people who have begun saving thanks to automatic enrolment. More than 33,000 large and medium employers have complied with their duties.
“But we are not complacent. More than 1.25 million employers need to comply with their new workplace pensions over the next three years. For all these employers it is vital that they find out their staging date now, and plan early to ensure that they are ready in time.”

LEBC divisional director, group savings & investments Glynn Jones says: “We are not surprised about these fines as we have been warning businesses they must meet their auto-enrolment obligations or face the consequences – simply they have no choice but to comply or pay the penalty.

“Unfortunately, a number of employers are still not engaging with their professional advisers to tackle their obligations. The Regulator has the powers to act and we have now seen it has imposed the first fines and more will follow if the warnings are ignored.”