TPR secures first AE non-compliance conviction

James Phillips writes

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has successfully prosecuted a bus company and its managing director for deliberately failing to provide staff with a workplace pension scheme.

Oldham-based Stotts Tours and Alan Stott were found guilty of a combined 16 offences of wilfully failing to comply with auto-enrolment (AE) legislation since its staging date passed in June 2015.

Both Stott and the company pleaded guilty to the offences at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 10 November, and sentencing is scheduled for 14 December with the court able to impose an unlimited fine.

The failure affected 36 staff and “merited the criminal prosecution”, the regulator said after the action, which is its first successful conviction under sections 3.2, 45 and 46 of the Pensions Act 2008.

TPR director of AE Darren Ryder warned other employers not to ignore their duties.

“Dozens of staff at the company were entitled to workplace pensions but were denied them because their employer deliberately failed to set them up,” he said.

“AE is not an option, it is the law. Employers should be in no doubt that if they wilfully refuse to become compliant they could end up with a criminal record – and will still have to give their staff the pensions they are due.”

The regulator said it is also seeking £14,400 in civil fines for non-compliance from the company in a separate case. It is the first time TPR has secured a criminal conviction over non-compliance with the AE regime.

The success comes after it used its information-gathering powers on three separate occasions earlier this year to secure convictions. It has prosecuted a solicitor firm and one of its managing partnersa charity chief executive, and an office manager, for failing to provide information.