No excuse for non-compliance, says The Pensions Regulator

14 December, 2016

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has revealed a “staggering” spike in the number of compliance notices it has issued to businesses which failed to comply with auto-enrolment staging dates.

In the three months to September, the regulator issued 15,073 notices out of a total 26,040 since the introduction of auto-enrolment in 2012.

It means that three out of every five compliance notices circulated over the past four years have been issued in the third quarter of 2016.

Catherine Pinkney, co-founder of payroll software developer, Paycircle, said the revelation was “frankly staggering”.

“For a multitude of reasons, not least considerable confusion around whose responsibility the workplace pension is, many firms are burying their heads in the sand,” she said.

“Many of the smallest businesses still don’t know who to turn to for help.”

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While TPR said the spike was in line with expectations – especially as the smallest of businesses are beginning to stage – firms of all sizes should be aware of the penalties in place for failing to automatically enrol employees.

Of those 15,073 businesses issued with a compliance notice, 3,728 were hit with a fixed £400 penalty fee.

And around 576 were issued with an Escalating Penalty Notice (EPN) – a fine of between £50 and £10,000.

The regulator warned employers that explanations given for non-compliance – such as lack of knowledge, illness, or being short-staffed – were not a “reasonable excuse”.

Charles Counsell, Executive Director of Automatic Enrolment at TPR said: “We recognise that employers have unique circumstances and challenges, but the law is still the law.”