The Pensions Regulator has released the latest quarterly bulletin covering compliance and non-compliance with auto enrolment. An increasing number of small and micro employers are reaching their Staging Date and many are leaving it very late to set up a workplace pension.
During the period July to September 2016 The Pensions Regulator issued £3,728 Fixed Penalty Notices to employers failing to meet their automatic auto enrolment duties. A number of employers contested their fines at a tribunal claiming their compliance was unintentional or that they had a "reasonable excuse". Their reasons included being short-staffed, illness and confusion as to whether the payroll administrator or the employer was doing it. However these reasonable excuses are not acceptable reasonable excuses according to The Pensions Regulator and will not be sufficient to avoid a fine.
A reasonable excuse is classed as something unexpected or outside of your control which stopped you meeting your statutory duties.
The bulletin released by The Pensions Regulator states that none of the following are acceptable reasonable excuses:
- You relied on someone else and they let you down
- You found the online system too difficult to use
- You didn't get a reminder
- You made a mistake
- You or a member of staff were ill
The Pensions Regulator says that, as with any other business activity, if you are too unwell to complete your AE duties, then you will need to find someone else who can.
The Pension Regulator will not accept an appeal against the size of the fine if you are a small business with perhaps only one employee. They say that it doesn't matter how many staff you employ or how low your pension contributions are, the law still applies to you.
The Pensions Regulator is currently reviewing employers who have submitted Declarations of Compliance with no workers to enrol where the payroll records show that they have employees. They have found employers to have used postponement incorrectly and have incorrectly submitted the Declaration of Compliance before the end of the postponement period.
The Pensions Regulator will give you an opportunity to provide information and comply with your statutory duty before imposing the Fixed Penalty Notice for £400 and the Escalating Penalty Notice for £50 to £500 per day but don't ignore any contact from them because there won't be many "reasonable excuses" they will accept!
For peace of mind sort your workplace pension out today. Contact Karen, our Auto Enrolment Administrator, who will manage the whole process for you. Telephone 01722 341820 today.