By law, all UK employers are required to complete a number of mandatory duties to comply with automatic enrolment. Some of these duties include enrolling staff who meet certain eligibility criteria into a workplace pension scheme, issuing letters to all employees and paying minimum employer pension contributions.
If an employer fails to comply with auto enrolment, the Pensions Regulator will take enforcement action. Although the rollout of auto enrolment began in 2012, it is now that the true consequences of non-compliance are coming to light.
Earlier this year, bus company Stotts Tours (Oldham) appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court for sentencing, after pleading guilty to eight counts of wilfully failing to comply with the law on workplace pensions - the first such prosecution by The Pensions Regulator.
Stotts Tours (Oldham) should have put its staff into a workplace pension and begun paying pension contributions from June 2015. With 36 employees that should have been enrolled, the bus company and its Managing Director are now left with a bill of more than £60,000 after they admitted trying to deliberately avoid giving their staff workplace pensions.
District Judge Teresa Szagun said: "Initially Mr Stott's attitude was to bury his head in the sand. This later left him in a position where he was out of his depth."
The bus company was ordered to pay a £27,000 fine, £7,400 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. This is on top of the £14,400 in civil fines that the employer already owes for failing to comply with the law on automatic enrolment and an estimated £10,000 in backdated pension contributions for employees. Managing Director Alan Stott was also ordered to pay a £4,455 fine and a £120 victim surcharge.
Darren Ryder, TPR's Director of Automatic Enrolment, said: "Compliance with automatic enrolment remains very high and so it's extremely disappointing that a tiny minority of employers continue to flout the law by denying their staff the pensions they are entitled to.”
“This case shows the cost to employers that failing to comply with automatic enrolment can bring - a bill of tens of thousands of pounds, a criminal conviction and a damaged reputation."