UK firms may have paid huge number of fines to pensions regulator unnecessarily


According to the third quarter compliance report from The Pensions Regulator, more than eight in ten businesses that sought a review of penalty notices they’d received, had them either altered or rescinded completely.

Fewer than one in five of these statutory notices, which include Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), Compliance Notices and Escalating Penalty Notices (EPN), were confirmed — or enforced — following the Regulator’s review process.

With nearly 7,000 FPN handed out since the start of the auto-enrolment process, this could mean hundreds of thousands of pounds have been incorrectly paid by businesses since July 2012.

With the number of both fixed and escalating penalties issued by the Regulator soaring between July and September, the number and value of fines being paid unnecessarily by smaller businesses could rise sharply in the months ahead.

Catherine Pinkney, Co-Founder, Paycircle, comments: “The workplace pensions roll-out is a gargantuan administrative task and, as such, there were always going to be cases where penalties for non-compliance were issued incorrectly. But the percentage of fines being revoked is a real cause for concern.

“With over 80 per cent of businesses successfully having their statutory notices either altered or revoked, some might argue the Regulator has been too heavy-handed in its auto-enrolment enforcement.

“With the number of fines issued in the third quarter of the year rising exponentially, smaller business owners should be aware that in many cases these fines are being overturned, saving them hundreds of pounds. As this data proves, if you feel the penalty you have received is unfair, the chances are you can get the decision either changed or reversed entirely.”