Earlier this month The Pensions Regulator released its quarterly statement, outlining the actions they have taken from July to September to ensure employers are complying with their auto enrolment obligations.
Despite auto enrolment having come into effect in October 2012, this is the first time we have seen the Regulator actually take a stand and issue its first set of Fixed Penalty Notices.
One could argue that 3 repeat offenders out of the 177 slapped wrists to date is pretty good going, but the gentle approach the Regulator has been taking looks set to be coming to an end, especially now as we head towards the smaller end of the scale.
From next April, businesses with less than 50 employees are going to be reaching their staging dates. It is a growing concern that many of these 1.25 million firms yet to stage are wholly unprepared and unaware of the obligations they have to meet within at least 3 months of their staging date. This was further cemented by the research the Regulator had conducted back in September, showing that 1 in 5 SMEs would not seek advice when choosing a pension scheme, while 1 in 10 were unaware of how to even select a scheme.
A certain level of hand-holding will be given by the Regulator for these firms as they take their first steps. However, with many providers becoming picky about the schemes that they take on and the Regulator are starting to issue compliance notices and penalties, it has never been so important for an employer to plan in advance.