Employers warned not to neglect workplace pensions duties as economy recovers

Employers are being warned not to neglect their workplace pensions duties as the economy recovers.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said it has been closely monitoring compliance and will use its powers where necessary to make sure that employers remain on track.

Employers have duties to automatically enrol eligible employees into workplace pensions and to pay in contributions, to help people’s pension pots grow.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, compliance has remained high, including maintaining pension contributions, it said.

The regulator’s overall use of its automatic enrolment enforcement powers has returned to pre-pandemic levels in recent months.

It said the total use of automatic enrolment powers between January and June 2021 increased to 77,032, significantly up from 41,398 in the second half of 2020.

The latest six-month total is a similar level to a total of 73,164 recorded in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, between October 2019 and March 2020.

Measures were introduced last spring to ensure struggling businesses were not unduly fined, but the regulator said it will use its powers where necessary to ensure employers remain on track.

Recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions showed participation in workplace pensions by employees has remained relatively stable over the Covid-19 period.

Mel Charles, director of automatic enrolment at TPR, said: “We have been clear with employers throughout the pandemic that they continue to have automatic enrolment duties and the majority have done the right thing for their staff despite the challenges.

“While we introduced measures in the early months of lockdown to allow struggling employers more time to achieve compliance and avoid being unduly fined, figures published today demonstrate we have continued to robustly protect savers, using our powers where necessary to protect savers.”

Mr Charles urged employers to ensure they plan ahead, including financial planning, so they continue to make the correct pensions contributions for their staff without the need for TPR to take enforcement action.

He also highlighted that staff continue to expect a pension as part of their job.