- employers warned not to neglect their automatic enrolment responsibilities as use of TPR powers returns to pre-pandemic levels
New figures released today show how the overall use of The Pensions Regulator’s automatic enrolment enforcement (AE) powers is back to pre-pandemic levels following necessary measures introduced last spring to support employers through the early months of the crisis.
TPR’s latest compliance and enforcement bulletin comes as the regulator warns employers not to neglect their workplace pensions duties as the economy recovers.
The bulletin shows the total use of AE powers between January and June 2021 increased to 77,032 compared to 41,398 for July to December 2020. For comparison, the total use of powers in the six-month period before the pandemic (October 2019 to March 2020) was 73,164.
Throughout the pandemic, compliance with the law has remained high, including maintaining pensions contributions. Measures were introduced last March to ensure struggling employers were not unduly fined. However, TPR has continued to closely monitor compliance and use its powers where necessary to ensure employers remain on track.
TPR’s bulletin comes as new statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions on workplace pension participation show trends in pension contributions have remained relatively stable over the Covid-19 period and that while employee contribution rates slightly reduced in early 2020, these have since returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Mel Charles, Director of Automatic Enrolment at TPR, said: “We have been clear with employers throughout the pandemic that they continue to have automatic enrolment duties and the majority have done the right thing for their staff despite the challenges.
“While we introduced measures in the early months of lockdown to allow struggling employers more time to achieve compliance and avoid being unduly fined, figures published today demonstrate we have continued to robustly protect savers, using our powers where necessary to protect savers.”
Mr Charles urged employers to ensure they plan ahead, including financial planning, so they continue to make the correct pensions contributions for their staff without the need for TPR to take enforcement action.
He also highlighted that despite the financial pressures felt by many, staff have nevertheless continued to save for their retirement and that they continue to expect a pension as part and parcel of their jobs.
The bulletin shows that in the six-month period from January to June 2021:
- TPR issued 35,087 Compliance Notices, compared to 25,783 between July and December 2020
- TPR issued 11,921 Unpaid Contributions Notices compared to 4,090 in the previous 6-month period, 22,542 Fixed Penalty Notices compared to 8,445 and 7,407 Escalating Penalty Notices compared to 2,964.
Today’s bulletin also shows how the use of TPR’s frontline regulation powers has seen an increase. The total number of statutory powers used was 288 between January and June compared with 268 for the previous 6-month period.
TPR has recently published two Regulatory Intervention Reports (RIR) detailing how TPR protected savers by warning it would use its frontline regulation powers.
An RIR on Keytec (GB) Limited outlines how TPR worked with Keytec (GB) Limited, its parent company Turbon AG, and the pension scheme trustees to reach a settlement that achieved a strong outcome for savers. The settlement was achieved after TPR issued a Warning Notice alerting the employer it would use its anti-avoidance Financial Support Direction power if the scheme was not properly supported.
An RIR on Sanofi Section of the Sanofi Pension Schemedetails how thousands of savers in the global healthcare company’s UK defined benefit (DB) scheme are now better protected after TPR warned of enforcement action to secure increased financial support for the scheme.