Johnsons pays 100 times the original fine after 'ignoring' pensions rules

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A high street footwear firm has been left with a bill 100 times more than its original fine after ignoring staff pension rules.

Johnsons Shoes Company was initially issued with a £400 fixed penalty notice after it failed to comply with the law on the automatic enrolment of its staff into the workplace pension scheme.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said this fine increased to £40,000 after the Shepperton-based business, despite repeated warnings, continued to flout the rules.

Charles Counsell, TPR's executive director of automatic enrolment, said: "The failure by Johnsons to act, despite our repeated warnings, left it with a completely unnecessary bill that was more than 100 times the amount it was originally fined.

"The vast majority of employers meet their automatic enrolment responsibilities.

"We will use all the powers available to us against the minority who choose to ignore their duties.

"Our message is clear: fail to comply with the law and you may be fined. Fail to pay your fine and we may take you to court."

TPR said Johnsons had been required to check whether its staff qualified to be put into a workplace pension scheme and to confirm it had done so.

The regulator said the firm paid the original £400 fine, but still failed in its responsibilities, and was eventually fined £2,500 a day until it followed the rules.

TPR said once the fine had reached £40,000, Johnsons became compliant but refused to pay the fine, forcing TPR to take the business to court to secure payment.

In March TPR said the business paid the £40,000 fine and £2,000 court costs, preventing the need for a full court hearing on the matter.

In a regulatory intervention report, published by TPR, Johnsons said "pressures of work were to blame for not meeting their automatic enrolment duties".

TPR said they "do not consider this to be a reasonable excuse", after sending Johnsons "several reminders" in the 12 months before their duties began to apply.