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June 26, 2017
The Pensions Regulator is Rolling Out AE Spot Checks Nationwide
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is rolling out spot checks across the country to ensure employers are complying with their auto enrolment (AE) duties.
In a series of announcements over the past week TPR has deployed flying squads to London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Manchester to carry out short-notice inspections.
And they go on to say they will be carrying out similar ‘hits’ on many more towns and cities across the country in the coming weeks.
The inspections have been planned to crack down on non-compliance and also identify any unnecessary challenges employers may face. In the first three months of 2017, TPR issued a total of 4,673 fixed penalty notices and 1,043 escalating penalty notices for AE breaches.
Why is the TPR doing this now?
In April this year the 500,000th employer signed up for their workplace pension duties, and the pace of businesses ‘staging’ has been put at one new business complying with their pension obligations every minute.
With the final staging dates for first-time employers falling between now and February 2018, and statutory re-enrolment happening for those employers who staged first also occurring, it appears TPR is working to put the matter at the top of firms’ agendas.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s Acting Director of Automatic Enrolment, said:
“The vast majority of employers become compliant ahead of their deadline but these 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’s the law. Where we find employers are not complying with the law, we will use our powers to make them comply.”
How are they enforcing these inspections?
In May this year TPR released a ‘name-and-shame’ list featuring the names of every employer taken to court for failing to pay fines for workplace non-compliance.
The fines owed range from £500 to £52,500, highlighting the level of financial penalties the TPR can levy on non-compliant SMEs.
What do I need to do to avoid a spot check/fine?
If the TPR wants to carry out a spot check on an employer they will notify them a matter of days in advance of the visit using powers given to them under Section 74 of the Pensions Act 2004.
TPR themselves say that ‘those being visited include organisations that we suspect may not be compliant or who we believe are at risk of becoming non-compliant in the future’.
Stuart (MCIPR) is a trained journalist, writer and marketer with ten years' experience in B2B, public sector and employee communications. A former marketing consultant and agency client-lead, Stuart is responsible for communications and content at Moorepay.