TPR to prosecute recruitment agency over AE duty failure suspicions

Kim Kaveh reports...

A recruitment agency and its managing director are to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) on suspicion of trying to avoid providing staff with a workplace pension.

Hertfordshire-based SKL Professional Recruitment Agency and managing director Linus Kadzere are accused by the watchdog of wilfully failing to comply with their auto-enrolment (AE) duties under sections 45 and 46 of the Pensions Act 2008.

Both defendants are also accused of falsely claiming they had enrolled 22 members of staff into a workplace pension scheme. Knowingly providing false information to TPR is an offence under section 80 of the Pensions Act 2004.

The agency – which provides workers in the care sector – and Kadzere have been summonsed to appear in Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 4 September 2019.

The pair will each face three charges of wilfully failing to comply with AE duties and one charge of knowingly or recklessly providing false and misleading information to TPR.

In a magistrates’ court, the charges carry a maximum sentence of an unlimited fine but, if the case is elevated to the Crown Court, the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment.

In a separate case last December, TPR prosecuted an account manager for failing to provide workplace pensions to staff. In February, the defendant was ordered to pay £5,000 for lying to the regulator about providing staff access to a pension.

In May, the regulator announced that employers who breach their AE pension duties will be targeted with short-notice inspections, as part of its ‘clearer, quicker, tougher’ initiative.