Workplace pension chaos: How UK firms might be paying unnecessary fines

Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of auto-enrolment fines could have been incorrectly issued to a huge number of employers, new research reveals.

A huge number of employers could have been incorrectly issued hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of auto-enrolment fines for workplace pension, 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in ten (82 per cent) businesses that sought a review of penalty notices they’d received, had them either altered or rescinded completely.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 (18 per cent) 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.

With nearly 7,000 FPN handed out since the start of the auto-enrolment process, this could mean hundreds of thousands of pounds in workplace pension have been incorrectly paid by businesses since July 2012.

With the number of both fixed and escalating penalties issued by the Regulator soaring between July and September, the number and value of fines being paid unnecessarily by smaller businesses could rise sharply in the months ahead.

Catherine Pinkney, co-founder of Paycircle, thinks that 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.

Pinkney adds, ‘But the percentage of fines being revoked is a real cause for concern. With over 80 per cent 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.’

Further reading on HMRC investigations

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics

Pension Schemes