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Pensions regulator reveals details of firm’s £108,000 auto-enrol compliance failings

The Pensions Regulator has for the first time revealed details of an auto-enrolment unpaid contributions notice after a nationwide soft furnishings business miscalculated pension payments by over £100,000.

According to a report published by the regulator today, Dunelm Soft Furnishings – which has around 4,500 staff across its 127 UK stores – failed to complete registration ahead of its 31 July 2013 deadline despite being given a number of opportunities to do so.

Dunelm eventually registered with TPR on 15 August 2013 – but only after the regulator issued it with a compliance notice.

However, following an inspection at the firm’s head office in Leicester TPR found Dunelm had:

  • failed to enrol members of the four weekly payroll on time. These members were automatically enrolled a month late;
  • failed to enrol certain members of the monthly payroll on time. These members were automatically enrolled three months late;
  • not paid across to the pension provider a significant level of contributions as a result of the failures above.

Dunelm blamed the failures on flaws in its bespoke payroll system, the departure of certain key members of staff at “critical points in the auto-enrolment timeline” and data quality issues experienced uploading employee information to the pension provider.

Following the inspection Dunelm paid around £35,000 in contributions for the four weekly payroll. In addition, TPR ordered the firm to pay approximately £83,000 in unpaid auto-enrolment contributions which were due in respect of the monthly payroll employees.

However, Dunelm subsequently found that it actually owed £108,000 in unpaid contributions to these workers.

TPR executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell says: “The Pensions Regulator focuses on a pro-compliance culture and employers and workers understand the ‘we’re all in’ message – 99.9 per cent of employers who have completed registration have done so without the need for us to use our powers.

“This section 89 report shows however, that we will use the powers we have been given to take enforcement action where it is appropriate to do so.

“I am pleased to see that the employer in this case is now compliant with their duties. I would urge all employers to take heed from the lessons learned here so that they avoid the same pitfalls.”

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