Within this bulletin the following case study is noteworthy:
Case study A London-based car hire company had a staging date in January 2016. It sent a letter to its staff, telling them they’d soon be automatically enrolled, and that if they wanted to opt out ahead of this time they should sign and return the form.
In early April of this year we carried out an inspection as part of our compliance validation drive. They had claimed to have zero workers, but our intelligence suggested otherwise.
The employer claimed that ill health, financial difficulties and bad advice from their accountant had contributed to their failure to comply. Their accountant had drawn up the letter that was sent to employees, with a tear-off slip asking them to fill it in if they wanted to opt out.
As the employer had failed to put any of their staff into a pension scheme, we sent them a compliance notice, warning them that we would fine them unless they quickly put things right.
Six weeks later they sent us proof of their compliance, the letters they’d sent to their staff and confirmation that they’d automatically enrolled the 13 people who were eligible. They also provided evidence that they’d backdated over a year’s worth of contributions to their original staging date, and were finally compliant on 8 June 2017.
Message to employers Whether your intentions are to make things easier for your staff or avoid paying into their pension scheme, the law is the same. They can’t opt out before you put them into a pension scheme, even if they’ve told you it’s what they want.