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New research has shown that awareness of Automatic Enrolment amongst employers is high.

But despite this the regulator has started to issue tougher fines.

Figures released by The Pensions Regulator reveal that:

  • More employers than ever are aware of their Automatic Enrolment duties. 97% of medium size employers are aware of what is required, however the level of knowledge falls in line with the size of the business, with only 65% of micro employers aware of the requirements to be placed on them
  • Of the employers due to reach their Staging Date between June and November this year, only 69% knew the date by when they will have to comply. Encouragingly though, 80% of these businesses have already contacted an adviser, or plan to do so
  • 65% of micro employers also plan to contact an adviser
  • Some employers are woefully under prepared; 20% of businesses due to hit their Staging Date between June and November this year have yet to start planning

Surprisingly, accountants and bookkeepers, who are often the first places small businesses turn to for financial information, have the lowest level of understand of the key elements of Automatic Enrolment.

Commenting on the findings, Charles Counsell, Executive Director for Automatic Enrolment at The Pensions Regulator, said: “While it is encouraging to see that awareness of automatic enrolment is improving, there are still too many employers failing to identify their staging date. As hundreds of thousands of small and micro employers prepare to stage in the next two years, we cannot be complacent.”

“The regulator’s direct communication to employers is having a major impact and we are launching new online material as part of our educate and enable approach to help employers meet their duties. We will be writing to all employers in the coming months and so when a brown envelope from The Pensions Regulator arrives, employers should open it as it will advise on when their staging date is.” (Source: The Pensions Regulator)

First escalating fines issued

Despite the relatively high awareness amongst businesses, the number of fines issued by The Pensions Regulator is on the rise.

There are two types of fines which the regulator can issue; fixed penalty notices of £400, followed by escalating daily fines for severe non-compliance.

The latest figures show that the regulator issued 198 fixed penalty notices; up from 166 in the last three months of 2014.

Furthermore, for the first time the regulator has issued escalating fines. Four such penalties were issued in the first quarter of the year. Although the regulator refused to confirm the amount, these fines can range from £50 to £10,000 per day depending on the type and severity of the breach.

As the focus switches to smaller and micro businesses, which are less aware and have fewer resources, the number of fines issued by the regulator is expected to rise sharply.

We’re here to help

If your Staging Date is in 2015, our experienced advisers are here to help you meet your obligations and avoid a fine.

Call Bev or Sarah today on 0115 933 8433 or email info@investmentsense.co.uk

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