Employer Johnson Shoes Company’s automatic enrolment staging date was 1st May 2014 and they had to file their declaration of compliance within the 5 months after the staging date by 30th September 2014, but they failed to do so by the deadline.
Johnsons were contacted by The Pensions Regulator several times advising them of their automatic enrolment duties and how to fulfil these duties. But Johnsons’ lack of action regarding their duties made The Pensions Regulator to use their enforcement methods.
TPR issued a Fixed Penalty Notice of £400 to Johnsons but Johnsons refused to pay this fine and asked TPR to review the penalty as they stated the pressures of work were the reason they did not fulfil their duties. As TPR had sent Johnsons several reminders in the year leading up to their staging date, giving Johnsons plenty of time to prepare, this excuse was not deemed to be a reasonable excuse by the TPR so the fine remained.
An Escalating Penalty Notice was issued which in Johnsons case was £2,500 per day due to the number of employees they have. This escalated to £40,000 total fine. As Johnsons also refused to pay this EPN fine The Pensions Regulator lodged a money claim with the County Court in order to recover the amount owed. In the end Johnsons were ordered to pay the £40,000 plus £2,000 in legal fees that The Pensions Regulator had to pay at the beginning of their claim, so total cost of £42,000 for Johnsons.
Johnsons are now fully compliant for automatic enrolment and their employees that are in the automatic enrolment pension scheme are in the same position as they would have been if Johnsons had been compliant at their staging date.
In a regulatory intervention report produced by The Pension Regulator it states this case shows that early engagement with the employer where non-compliance is identified is necessary. This cost to Johnsons could have been prevented if Johnsons had of being prepared for automatic enrolment and not ignored the communication from The Pensions Regulator.