The Covid-19 pandemic, and the trials and tribulations that came with it, are starting to feel like a distant memory. Free lateral flow testing is gone, masks seem to be slowly disappearing, and the Pensions Regulator is resuming its spot checks on employers.

The Regulator has announced that it will be using real-time information shared by HMRC and carrying out on-site inspections across the UK in order to ensure employers are meeting their pensions responsibilities. As expected, checking employers’ compliance with auto-enrolment duties and ensuring contributions have been paid in full are at the top of the Regulator’s list of priorities.

For employers who are not compliant with their duties, the Regulator has confirmed that it will issue financial penalties, where it is appropriate to do so.

Already this year we have seen a number of appeals against penalties issued by the Regulator being referred to the First Tier Tribunal. From these cases, there are several points that employers can take away:

  • Auto-enrolment audits: Carrying out regular audits will help to identify any areas of non-compliance and will assist employers in correcting any issues in a timely manner.
  • Update your contact details: Recently, we have seen a number of cases where compliance notices and fixed and escalating penalty notices have been issued, but not received until it is too late. Ensuring the Regulator holds up-to-date contact issues may help to prevent this from occurring.
  • Engage with the Regulator: The Regulator’s role is ultimately to protect pension scheme members, and the Regulator will work with employers to ensure that they are able to comply with their duties.

If you would like any specific guidance on your auto-enrolment duties as an employer, or if you have received a penalty notice from the Pensions Regulator, please do get in touch and I will be happy to help.