There has been a dramatic rise in the number of fines for pension non-compliance issued to businesses, according to The Pensions Regulator (TPR), which said it had issued 3,728 fixed penalty notices in the three months to September, compared to 861 the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, 15,073 compliance notices were issued over the same period, to remedy a breach of one or more automatic enrolment employer duties, up from 3,392 the quarter before.
TPR also issues something called an escalating penalty notice of between £50 and £10,000 per day for failure to comply with a statutory notice. In the last quarter TPR issued 576 of such notices, up from just 38 the previous quarter.
However, the regulator said that this rise was ‘very small’ relative to the number of compliance notices, or to the number of employers staging. In fact, less than 5 per cent of compliance notices progress to an escalating penalty notice.
As TPR pointed out, employers should try to get it right, as the fixed penalty notice comes with a fine of £400 for failure to comply with a statutory notice or some specific employer duties.
Commenting on the figures, former pensions minister, Steve Webb, said that the current advertising campaign using the pensions auto-enrolment ‘monster’, Workie, who is supposed to be too big to be ignored, does not put across the right message.
Describing the TV advertising as shocking, Mr Webb said that the message is that ‘these people like you’ are ignoring the workplace pension. In his opinion, the original message, that ‘people like us are in and this is normal’, was much better.
Mr Webb insisted that the message needs to be that there is still a very high rate of compliance and that employers want to do it because it is what people do when they employ someone.