A British bus company and its managing director have been fined more than £60,000 ($83,560) for admitting to deliberately trying to avoid providing employees with pensions, according to UK watchdog The Pensions Regulator (TPR). It is the first UK firm to be sentenced for failing to enroll staff in a pension plan.
All UK employers are required by law to set up pensions for employees who meet certain eligibility criteria, and pay minimum employer pension contributions.
In November, the bus company, Stotts Tours, and its managing director Alan Stott, pled guilty to a total of 16 offenses of willfully failing to comply with the law on workplace pensions. On Wednesday, Brighton Magistrates’ Court ordered the company to pay a £27,000 fine, £7,400 in costs, and a £120 victim surcharge. Stott was ordered to pay a £4,455 fine and a £120 victim surcharge. This is in addition to the £14,400 in civil fines that the company already owes for failing to comply with the law on automatic enrollment.
Stotts Tours is also required to pay an estimated £10,000 in backdated pension contributions for its employees, as well as pay all ongoing contributions that are due, otherwise they will face further enforcement action from TPR.
“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,” said Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrolment in a release. “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.”
TPR has also fined the trustee of workplace pension provider NOW: Pensions £70,000 to fix long-running issues with the pension. The regulator said it required the master trust to act to resolve “persistent administrative failings,” over several years, which have led to some pension plan participants’ savings not being collected and invested.
The regulator issued trust manager NOW: Pensions Ltd. with an improvement notice, and a related notice known as a third-party notice. The notices require that the trustee complete a series of steps to remedy their administrative issues. The steps must be taken by specified deadlines over a number of weeks and months.
In November 2017, TPR fined the trustee £50,000 for failing to ensure that all employee and employer contributions were collected and invested promptly, and another £20,000 in January 2018 for failing to keep some members properly informed.
“This package of measures, together with those voluntarily taken by the trustee, should ensure that the issues with NOW: Pensions which have persisted for so long are finally resolved,” said Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation. “We will continue to monitor progress and will issue further fines if necessary to ensure that the trustee and NPL focus on resolving the issues as swiftly as possible.”