The UK’s The Pension Regulator (TPR) said it will prosecute Birmingham-based healthcare company Crest Healthcare for intentionally trying to avoid providing its employees with a workplace pension.
Crest Healthcare managing director Sheila Aluko was also named in the complaint for “willfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties under section 45 of the Pensions Act 2008,” said TPR in a statement.
It is also accused of falsely claiming it had enrolled 25 workers in a workplace pension plan. According to TPR, knowingly providing false information to the regulator is an offense under section 80 of the Pensions Act 2004.
Both Aluko and Crest Healthcare have been summoned to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Dec. 22, where they will each face two charges of willfully failing to comply with their automatic enrollment duties, and one charge of knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information to TPR.
According to TPR, both charges can be tried in a Crown Court, where the maximum sentence for each is two years’ imprisonment, or in a magistrates’ court, where the maximum sentence for each is an unlimited fine.
TRP has stepped up its enforcement of pensions violations in 2017. According to data released by TPR in November, the regulator used its powers to issue unpaid contributions notices to 753 employers between July and September, up from 653 in the previous quarter. The notices require an employer to ensure all backdated contributions are paid within 28 days.
The TPR said there was a nearly 50% increase in the number of compliance notices issued to employers for failing to meet automatic enrollment duties from the previous quarter. There were also nearly 5,500 more fixed penalty notices issued in the last three months to employers for failing to comply with a statutory notice or a specific duty.
“There are now more than 800,000 compliant employers with more than 8.7 million workers in workplace pension schemes,” said Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrollment, in a statement. “The vast majority of employers are doing the right thing for their staff and are meeting their pension duties.”