The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is carrying out its first spot checks north of the Border to find out whether staff are being given the workplace pensions they are entitled to.
Under the “automatic enrolment” rules, which began to take force in 2012, every employer has to enrol their eligible workers in a pension scheme and contribute towards their retirement.
More than 640,000 employers across the UK have already met their automatic enrolment duties, with more than eight million workers given workplace pensions as a result.
But TPR said that, in the first three months of this year, it had issued more than 5,700 penalty notices to firms that were failing to meet their obligations. Offenders can be fined up to £10,000 a day, depending on the size of their workforce, if they do not pay the initial fixed penalty of £400.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrolment, said: “The vast majority of employers become compliant ahead of their deadline but these visits help us to identify why some have not, so we can take action where we need to.
“Every employer has workplace pension duties and we are determined that every worker gets the pension they are entitled to. Automatic enrolment is not an option, it’s the law. Where we find employers are not complying with the law, we will use our powers to make them comply.”
TPR’s inspection teams will visit dozens of businesses in and around the Capital over the coming weeks to check that staff are getting their workplace pensions, which also qualify for tax relief from the government, helping to boost the size of the pension pot.
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The watchdog, which regulates work-based pension schemes in the UK, said that employers will be told in advance about the spot checks, which are designed to find out if firms are failing to meet their duties, paving the way for enforcement action. But it said the visits will also help it understand whether it needs to improve its systems if employers are facing any “unnecessary challenges” in setting up a workplace pension scheme.
The move is part of a nationwide enforcement campaign that began in London in April. The “short-notice” inspections have since been carried out in Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Sheffield, but this is the first time that the checks have been made in Scotland.
More than 3,300 companies across Edinburgh have already met their obligations, TPR said, with 53,000 members of staff being signed up for new workplace pensions as a result. More than 2,000 extra employers in the city will have to comply with the automatic enrolment rules this year.