UK pensions watchdog The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said it will begin conducting spot inspections on employers suspected of providing false or misleading information about meeting their automatic enrollment duties. TPR said it will also target employers who are still noncompliant despite receiving penalties.
“It is an offence for employers to provide TPR with false information on their declaration of compliance, but there are tell-tale signs indicating an employer might not be telling the truth,” Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrollment, said in a release. “We can also detect employers who are failing to meet their automatic enrolment duties despite being issued with a penalty and we will take action if we suspect either of these is the case.”
TPR cited a recent court case in which a healthcare provider was fined £20,000 ($26,201) by the courts for providing the regulator with false or misleading information. Birmingham-based Crest Healthcare and its managing director pleaded guilty to knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information, and willfully failing to comply with their automatic enrollment duties.
Employers who have been given an escalating penalty notice for noncompliance but have still failed to meet their responsibilities, along with a small number of employers selected at random, will also be subject to the spot checks.
TPR said the inspections will start this month and will be carried out across the country. The inspections are intended to not only detect noncompliance, but to also to gain insight into employer behavior.
Employers are usually notified about an inspection a matter of days in advance of a visit from TPR. Those being visited include organizations that TPR suspects may not be compliant, or who it believes are at risk of becoming noncompliant in the future.
“The vast majority of employers are meeting their responsibilities and automatic enrolment is now business as usual,” said Ryder. “But where employers fail to comply with the law, we will use our full range of our powers to ensure staff get the pensions they are due.”