TPR launches probe into ‘shape-shifting employers’ dodging AE duties

James Phillips reports...

Companies which have tried to dodge their pension duties by changing their identities are being “hunted” by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) in a crackdown on non-compliance with auto-enrolment (AE).

The watchdog said it has become aware of a number of employers which have changed their names – opening new businesses and transferring the workforce across – in a bid to hide from the law, while also potentially committing fraud and theft offences.

The investigations, which also involve the Insolvency Service and other agencies, are focused on companies that have left “scores of employees” out of the AE regimes. The regulator is also looking at whether rogue advisers may be involved.

Director of AE Darren Ryder said: “Some bosses might think that by changing the name of their company, they can avoid their duties but they should know they are on our radar. We are aware of the camouflage they are trying to use and will not be fooled by it.

“We will not tolerate any attempt to deny employees the workplace pensions they are entitled to – and will take action against those who try to dodge their duties.”

Re-enrolment

The watchdog has separately launched an online tool to support employers in re-enrolling their staff into a workplace pension, as some are failing to do so and are facing fines.

Thousands of small and micro employers are reaching their re-enrolment dates, three years after completing staging, and must complete a two-stage process to check which staff need to be re-enrolled, and then re-enrol them before completing a re-declaration of compliance.

Ryder said: “Re-enrolment gives staff who opted out of their workplace pension a fresh chance to start saving so it’s an important task.

“AE has led to millions of new savers and we want to ensure this success continues. Our online re-enrolment tool will help employers continue to meet their legal duties so that staff continue to have the opportunity to save.”

According to the regulator’s most recent statistics, published this month, 10.1 million people had been auto-enrolled by the end of June, while another 646,000 had been re-enrolled.