The Pensions Regulator cracking down on employers avoiding auto-enrolment responsibilities

In the first prosecution of its kind, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has convicted a bus company and its boss for deliberately avoiding auto-enrolling their staff into a workplace pension scheme.

In December, Stotts Tours – and founder Alan Stott – pleaded guilty to a total of 16 offences of knowingly and wilfully failing to comply with the law on workplace pensions under section 3(2) of the Pensions Act 2008.

As a spokesman for TPR said, dozens of employees at the firm had been entitled to workplace pensions since June 2015 but were denied them because their employer deliberately failed to set them up.

He added that auto-enrolment is not an option but the law, stressing that employers should be in no doubt that if they wilfully refuse to become compliant, they could end up with a criminal record and will still have to give their staff the pensions they are due.

The Regulator has previously stressed that it is happy to raise prosecutions in any “appropriate cases”.

In recent months, there have been a number of fines for non-compliance with auto-enrolment legislation, mainly because of procedural errors and oversights, which have even included common excuses such as “running out of time”. However, the use of criminal prosecution powers is something new.

Automatic enrolment began for the largest employers in October 2012, and is expected to lead to around 10 million people starting to save or saving more towards their retirement by the end of this year.

The rules require employers to automatically enrol their workers into a defined contribution (DC) pension scheme which meets certain minimum requirements, and to make contributions towards the pensions of workers that do not opt out of the scheme once enrolled.

At The Fish Partnership, we offer advice on auto-enrolment at very competitive rates, and our payroll team can manage all of the necessary changes so that your employees’ pay is correctly adjusted. Many of our existing clients are already benefiting from our expertise to ensure that they meet their obligations. For more information about our payroll services, please contact us.