The Pensions Regulator has reported an increase in the number of firms being fined for failing to comply with their workplace pension duties.
According to figures published in their recent bulletin, the total number of employers fined was 166 in the latter half of 2014. They were issued with fixed penalty notices of £400 apiece.
This is a large increase from the earlier months of 2014, when just three were issued.
Adam Bexson, consultant at actuaries Barnett Waddingham, said that the rapid increase is "unsurprising".
“This certainly backs up our belief that smaller companies are finding auto enrolment more difficult to deal with than the big companies with larger resources who made the task seem easy," he said.
"The sharp increase in the number of fines being issued at a time when the Regulator is writing to over 1m small companies is no coincidence. Without having the luxury of large HR, payroll and finance departments that larger employers benefit from, it seems logical that we will see the number of fines increasing at a greater rate as the months go by."
There was also a rise in the number of compliance notices sent to firms, with 1,139 being sent out, asking employers to fix a breach of one or more of employer duties, or else face a fine.
In addition, the number of employers reaching the date they have to confirm they have complied with the pension duties is increasing 'significantly'. The Pensions Regulator said it expects to see more employers who leave it too late or simply don't comply in coming months.
Around 30,000 medium sized employers had until December 2014 to complete their declaration of compliance.
The Pensions Regulator’s Director of automatic enrolment, Charles Counsell, warned employers to declare within five months of their staging date. He recommended that those with staging dates approaching plan 12 months in advance.
“With the mass market roll out of automatic enrolment to large numbers of small businesses in the coming months, we expect to see an increase in how often we need to use our powers," he said.
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