The Pensions Regulator has a issued a statement reminding all employers that they need to act as automatic enrolment enforcement activity increases. Its latest compliance and enforcement report for the period 1 July to 30 September 2014 shows that as the number of employers staging rises then so does the need for the Pensions Regulator to use its statutory powers. During the period, it issued over 150 compliance notices (compared to fewer than 20 prior to 30 June) and three fixed penalty notices.  These were the first such fines to be levied against employers.

On the back of this report, the Pensions Regulator has commenced a new advertising campaign directed at small and micro employers who, over the next couple of years, will be reaching their “staging date” (the date from which they need to automatically enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme). More than 1.25 million employers are still to reach their staging dates, and the Regulator has urged them to find out their staging date now and plan early to ensure that they are ready in time.

While this new campaign is targeted at those employers who have yet to reach their staging date, for those employers who have already staged it serves as a reminder that they must not be complacent about their automatic enrolment duties and must recognise the importance of having in place adequate systems to ensure continued compliance. In particular, employers need to bear in mind the impact of the very recent decision confirming that overtime should be included in holiday pay when assessing a worker against the earnings trigger for automatic enrolment.

The increase in the number of times the Pensions Regulator has used its statutory powers is evidence of the fact that it takes non-compliance very seriously and will take action to enforce compliance where necessary.