Auto-enrolment spot checks: The Pensions Regulator is out in full force

Financial Adviser has recently reported that The Regulator has visited a number of businesses across Manchester to check that qualifying staff are receiving the workplace pensions they are entitled to.

This is part of a nationwide enforcement campaign to ensure auto-enrolment duties are being carried out correctly.

It is believed visits will continue across other towns and cities in the UK over the following weeks.

Whilst it is understood that over 500,000 employers up and down the nation have met their       auto-enrolment duties, with nearly eight million workers enrolled in workplace pension schemes as a result, the checks will also help The Regulator understand any unnecessary challenges employers are facing and how the watchdog can help.

That being said, the campaign will of course also highlight offenders who have not taken the required steps to become or remain compliant.

According to The Pension Regulator’s recent auto-enrolment compliance and enforcement bulletin, in the first three months of 2017 the watchdog issued a total of 4,573 fixed penalty notices and 1,043 escalating penalty notices.

I believe that it’s no surprise that The Regulator are cracking down on offenders. As I highlighted in my recent blog Names and Shames: The Pensions Regulator is not afraid to take action against organisations that flout duties, I was concerned to find that there is still very little knowledge surrounding the role, and even existence of, The Pensions Regulator in my recent research.

Many employees are unaware of the changes to the state pension, only 40% of employers know their correct staging date, a third of micro businesses feel completely unprepared and three quarters of employers had no idea about re-enrolment.

This is in addition to only 23% of micro employers strongly agreeing that they know where to go to find out more information on workplace pensions, and over 50% believing that the workplace pension TV adverts were from the government!

As such, I’m left wondering again, are employers offending on purpose? Or is a lack of awareness and understanding surrounding auto-enrolment and the role of the Pensions Regulator at the heart of these offences?

Darren Ryder, The Pensions Regulator’s acting director of automatic enrolment, had this to say on the subject: “The vast majority of employers become compliant ahead of their deadline but visits help us to identify why some have not, so we can take action where we need to.

“Every employer has workplace pension duties and we are determined that every worker gets the pension they are entitled to.

“Automatic enrolment is not an option, it is the law. Where we find employers are not complying with the law, we will use our powers to make them comply.”

Sources

Based off an original article posted by at www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2017/06/06/regulator-carries-out-auto-enrolment-spot-checks/

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/employer-automatic-enrolment-research-technical-autumn-2016.pdf