Pensions regulator targets employers in the north with inspections

Inspectors from the The Pensions Regulator have visited employers in the Belfast and north Down area in recent weeks.

EMPLOYERS in the north are being targeted with spot-check inspections to ensure their staff are getting the workplace pensions they are entitled to.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said its inspectors have visited businesses in Belfast and Co Down, including Bangor, in recent weeks to check they are complying with their pension duties.

The regulator said the inspections involved companies with staff totalling 20,000 people.

The TPR said while the vast majority of employers in Northern Ireland are meeting their legal obligations, more than 850 companies were fined by the regulator in 2022 for failing to comply with automatic enrolment legislation protecting staff.

In the Belfast area ten employers were also issued with court orders in 2022 after failing to pay escalating penalty fines, ranging from £700 to £15,400.

In total more than 4,800 employers in the north have been issued with fines by the regulator to protect workers’ pension pots since auto-enrolment was launched in 2012.

Breaches typically include failure to enrol eligible staff in a pension scheme or pay contributions into a scheme on their staff’s behalf, and failure to pay money deducted from staff salaries into a pension scheme within a prescribed period.

The latest data shows 39,540 employers in Northern Ireland have workplace pension schemes, with 409,000 workers enrolled in workplace pensions,

TPR’s head of compliance and enforcement, Joe Turner, said: “Automatic enrolment has been a great success in Northern Ireland.

“The great majority of employers in Northern Ireland are doing the right thing for their staff. However, for the small minority that fail, we will take enforcement action where necessary to protect savers’ money, which can include significant fines and, in some cases, potentially prosecution.

“We monitor employers big and small, across all sectors, which means we could be knocking on any employer’s door. Our warning to employers is clear: don’t hide from your workplace pensions duties.”

Mr Turner added: “Following our recent inspections in Co Down and Belfast, we are continuing to work with these employers to ensure they are compliant and stay on track.”