The Pensions Regulator has issued its’ first report under Section 89 of the Pensions Act 2004 in relation to Dunelm Soft Furnishings Ltd (Dunelm), for non-compliance in the Government’s workplace pension scheme. Employment Partner Kate Fretten says,”From 2012 larger employers have been obliged to enrol their eligible workers into a workplace pension- known as ‘auto-enrolment’. Individual employees were not required to do anything, the employer makes all the arrangements.”
The report sets out the difficulties experienced by Dunelm during the registration process, including issues with payroll systems and handovers between crucial members of staff during the automatic enrolment preparations. Contributory factors were design flaws in the bespoke payroll system, key members of staff involved had ceased employment with Dunelm at a critical time in the enrolment stage and data quality issues.
During and after the statutory inspection under Section 74 of the Pensions Act 2004, which took place at Dunelms’ head office, the regulator actively engaged with Dunelm and the third parties who supplied payroll and pension services, thus enabling them to assist in resolving the difficulties and ensuring that Dunelm became compliant with their duties.
The Pensions Regulator are keen to point out that Dunelm were ‘open, forthcoming and fully co-operative with the regulator in their endeavour to meet their employer duties.’ They said that ‘the company is now compliant with its automatic enrolment duties’ and’ we want other employers to learn from Dunelm’s experience and avoid compliance risks. In particular, this case shows that employers struggling to meet their automatic enrolment duties should raise the alert with us sooner rather than later.’