UK firms have been slapped with incorrect auto-enrolment fines worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to new research by cloud-based payroll and pensions platform, Paycircle.
According to the third quarter compliance report from The Pensions Regulator, more than eight in 10 (82 per cent) businesses that sought a review of penalty notices they’d received, had them either altered or rescinded completely.*
Fewer than one in five of these statutory notices, which include Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), Compliance Notices and Escalating Penalty Notices (EPN), were confirmed — or enforced — following the Regulator’s review process.
Catherine Pinkney, Co-Founder, Paycircle, said: “The workplace pensions roll-out is a gargantuan administrative task and, as such, there were always going to be cases where penalties for non-compliance were issued incorrectly. But the percentage of fines being revoked is a real cause for concern. With over 80% of businesses successfully having their statutory notices either altered or revoked, some might argue the Regulator has been too heavy-handed in its auto-enrolment enforcement.
“With the number of fines issued in the third quarter of the year rising exponentially, smaller business owners should be aware that in many cases these fines are being overturned, saving them hundreds of pounds. As this data proves, if you feel the penalty you have received is unfair, the chances are you can get the decision either changed or reversed entirely.”
A spokesperson from The Pensions Regulator said:
“It is not correct to suggest that a large percentage of businesses have had statutory notices from TPR altered or revoked. In fact, just fewer than 10%* of the employers who have been issued a statutory notice have asked for it to be reviewed. The majority of employers who receive a notice go on to comply with their duties.
“Far from being heavy handed with our enforcement, by September this year our educate and enable approach had helped more than a quarter of a million employers meet their automatic enrolment duties and put more than 6 million workers into a pension.
“We urge people not to ignore letters from us and to get in touch if they feel they are not subject to automatic enrolment before they receive a statutory notice or fine.”