Employers attempting to avoid auto-enrolment penalties could have assets seized
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has announced that employers could have their businesses’ assets seized to pay their debts if they fail to pay workplace pension fines.
TPR has powers to fine employers who do not comply with workplace pension rules. However, it has also confirmed that it is willing to secure court orders if the fines are not paid.
Where a court order is acquired and the business does not pay, it will appoint High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforce the orders in England and Wales, with an equivalent level of enforcement in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Those employers who fail to repay the fine could receive a visit from a TPR appointed HCEO at their business premises and have items removed and sold to recover the value of the amount owed.
This could include the employer’s vehicles, machinery or any other assets on the premises owned by the business.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment (AE), said: “Automatic enrolment is not an option, it’s the law. Those who break the law by denying their staff the pensions they are entitled to should expect to be punished – and must pay any fines they are given.
“AE has been a huge success thanks to the vast majority of employers who do exactly what they should, but a tiny minority not only ignore their automatic enrolment duties but fail to pay their fines, even after the courts have ordered them to.
“The use of HCEOs is a last resort for us. Unfortunately, the behaviour of a tiny minority means it may be necessary.”
As part of its enforcement programme, TPR will also consider whether it should prosecute employers that remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties after receiving a court order demanding that they pay their fines.